Every NFL Team's Biggest Mistake of the Past Decade
Everyone makes mistakes. NFL teams are no exception.
Granted, some make more than others.
The New England Patriots are the paragon of a well-run organization. Meanwhile, the Cleveland Browns made so many before the arrival of general manager John Dorsey that it was hard to keep track.
No matter the team, every NFL franchise has committed at least one notable gaffe over the past decade. For some, it was a squandered draft pick. Or maybe a terrible free-agent signing. Or a boneheaded trade.
And for one West Coast team, it was a play call that cost them a championship.
Arizona Cardinals: Hiring Steve Wilks as Head Coach in 2018
The Arizona Cardinals' decision to trade up to No. 10 for quarterback Josh Rosen only to trade him to Miami a year later after an underwhelming rookie campaign wasn't great. Nor was the two-year, $40 million deal they gave veteran quarterback Sam Bradford last offseason.
But the Cardinals set both Bradford and Rosen up to fail. Baker Mayfield or Sam Darnold likely wouldn't have had much more success than Rosen did at the helm of a historically futile offense.
Head coach Steve Wilks, who lasted only one disastrous season in Arizona, deserves the blame for that.
By all indications, Wilks is a good defensive coach. But he's the one who selected Mike McCoy as his offensive coordinator last year. Part of being an NFL head coach is selecting the right staff and delegating authority.
Wilks proved to be out of his depth in that regard last year.
Atlanta Falcons: Super Bowl LI Collapse
The Atlanta Falcons can't point to a single play as the reason for their record-setting collapse against the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LI, when they blew a 28-3 lead.
Matt Ryan's fumble after linebacker Dont'a Hightower's sack set the Patriots up deep in Falcons territory, letting them back in the game. Robert Alford's coverage on Julian Edelman was good, but not quite good enough. The Falcons ran fewer than half the plays the Patriots did and lost the time-of-possession battle in a landslide.
It was a series of tiny mistakes, the kind that happen in just about every NFL game.
But this time, they came together in the most improbable of ways, resulting in the most crushing defeat in NFL history.
Baltimore Ravens: Drafting Breshad Perriman 26th Overall in 2015
There were a few potential contenders for Baltimore's worst mistake of the past decade.
The six-year, $120.6 million contract extension the Ravens gave quarterback Joe Flacco in March 2013 deserves consideration. But while that turned out to be a massive overpay, it also came just after he had led Baltimore to a Super Bowl victory.
Just about every team in the NFL would have done the same thing.
The Ravens' selection of safety Matt Elam with the No. 32 overall pick in 2013 also proved regrettable. Elam was OK as a rookie but declined quickly after that, and after he missed all of the 2015 season and barely played in 2016, he was out of the NFL altogether.
Two years later, the Ravens did essentially the exact same thing. This time, they wasted the 26th overall pick on Breshad Perriman, a wide receiver who ran like a deer and caught like, well, a deer.
Perriman didn't even make it through his rookie contract. After he tallied only 43 catches and three scores across his first three seasons, the Ravens released him in September.
Buffalo Bills: Trading Up to Draft Sammy Watkins in 2014
Over a four-year stretch from 2013 to 2016, the Buffalo Bills gave the Cleveland Browns a run for their money as the worst-drafting team in the NFL.
In 2013, the Bills took quarterback EJ Manuel with the 16th overall pick. Over four years in Buffalo, Manuel went 6-11 as a starter under center and barely averaged 125 passing yards per game. He's now out of the NFL entirely.
In 2016, the Bills used the 19th overall pick on edge-rusher Shaq Lawson. Heading into the final year of his rookie contract, Lawson has 10 career sacks.
However, 2014 takes the cake.
While wide receiver Sammy Watkins has had some success in the NFL—he topped 1,000 yards with nine scores for the Bills in 2015—he missed 11 games over his first three seasons, and the Bills traded him to the Rams prior to the 2017 season.
He also cost the Bills not just the No. 4 pick in 2014, but also the 19th overall pick and a fourth-rounder the following season.
Carolina Panthers: Releasing Steve Smith in 2014
"[Everyone] put on your goggles, because there's going to be blood and guts everywhere.''
That's what Steve Smith told a Charlotte radio station about the prospects of facing the Carolina Panthers again after the team dumped him prior to the 2014 season, according to ESPN.com's David Newton.
Smith spent the first 13 seasons of his career in Carolina. While he had a down 2013 season, the veteran wideout topped 70 receptions and 1,100 yards in both 2011 and 2012.
Smith felt his release had more to do with his contentious relationship with quarterback Cam Newton than his performance, admitting that the pair "bumped heads." He also took offense to Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman making news of the release public before contacting Smith publicly.
Smith went on to top 1,000 yards with the Ravens in 2014, including a seven-catch, 139-yard, two-touchdown stat line against the Panthers.
Meanwhile, the Panthers selected wideout Kelvin Benjamin in the first round of the 2014 draft and have had only one 1,000-yard wideout in the five years since Smith's release.
Chicago Bears: Signing Mike Glennon in 2017
The Chicago Bears appear to have found a franchise quarterback in Mitchell Trubisky. But his arrival in the Windy City was a bit bizarre.
A month before the Bears traded up a spot in the 2017 draft to snag the North Carolina signal-caller, they signed free-agent quarterback Mike Glennon to a three-year, $45 million contract that included $18.5 million in guarantees.
Glennon's four years in Tampa had been uneventful at best. He was 5-13 as the team's starter over his first two years before he took up clipboard duty behind Jameis Winston and didn't attempt a single pass in 2015.
Glennon opened the 2017 season as Chicago's starter, but after a miserable month that five interceptions to only four touchdowns and three losses in four games, the Bears pulled him in favor of Trubisky.
Glennon never attempted another pass for Chicago.
Cincinnati Bengals: Drafting John Ross 9th Overall in 2017
In the days leading up to the 2017 draft, Washington wide receiver John Ross was riding high on a wave of momentum. Ross had just become the fastest man in NFL Scouting Combine history after racing down the track in Indy in a blistering 4.22 seconds.
The Bengals liked what they saw so much that they selecting Ross ninth overall, hopeful that he would emerge as a downfield complement to star wideout A.J. Green.
That hasn't happened. In fact, not much of anything has happened.
Ross' rookie season was a nightmarish mix of injuries, poor play and healthy scratches. He played in only three games, was targeted twice and didn’t make a single catch.
Ross was better last season, reeling in 21 passes for 210 yards and seven touchdowns. But that type of production over two seasons isn't what the Bengals had in mind when they spent a top-10 pick on him two years ago.
Cleveland Browns: Hiring Hue Jackson in 2016
It's almost impossible to count the number of first-round picks the Browns have squandered over the past 10 years.
Johnny Manziel. Brandon Weeden. Trent Richardson. Justin Gilbert. Barkevious Mingo. Corey Coleman. Phil Taylor. Danny Shelton. Cameron Erving. Every one of those players was a Round 1 pick since 2011.
None of them are still on the team, and many are out of football altogether. And yet somehow, the Browns managed to find a way to one-up that futility.
Over two-plus years and 40 games as the Browns' head coach, Hue Jackson won three games. In 2016, the Browns went 1-15 (and the lone win was a gift). In 2017, they joined the 2008 Detroit Lions as the only two 0-16 teams in league history. And in 2018, Cleveland started 2-5-1 before firing Jackson.
Over the second half of last season, interim head coach Gregg Williams won five games with the same roster.
Only one head coach in NFL history has a lower career winning percentage than Jackson. That man, Bert Bell, owned the team he was coaching.
Dallas Cowboys: Signing Greg Hardy in 2015
The Dallas Cowboys' signing of Greg Hardy looked like an obvious mistake from the moment it happened.
The Cowboys were roundly blasted after bringing in Hardy, who missed most of the 2014 season while his domestic violence case played out. Hardy served a four-game suspension to open the 2015 season, but he then racked up four sacks in his first four games with Dallas.
However, Hardy was a problem from the get-go. The Dallas Morning News' Brandon George reported he was regularly late for meetings, and Ryan Wilson of CBS Sports noted he made strange comments about Gisele Bundchen (Tom Brady's wife) and argued with Dez Bryant on the sideline after shoving a Cowboys assistant.
In November 2015, photos of Nicole Holder, the former girlfriend Hardy allegedly assaulted, were made public. The Cowboys chose not to re-sign him after the season, and he's been out of the NFL ever since.
Denver Broncos: Trading Up to Draft Paxton Lynch in 2016
During his playing days, John Elway was one of the best quarterbacks in NFL history. But as the Denver Broncos' general manager, Elway's had trouble finding a good quarterback.
With the exception of falling backward into Peyton Manning, Elway's choices at quarterback have vacillated between bad, really bad and what the heck was he thinking.
The first-round selection of Paxton Lynch in 2016 falls into that last category.
It isn't just that Lynch was mostly terrible during his two years in Denver. He made four starts over that span, winning only one. The Memphis product threw as many picks as touchdowns, averaged fewer than 160 yards a game and generally appeared in over his head.
Making matters worse, Elway traded up to select Lynch 26th overall in 2016. In addition to their first-rounder (No. 31 overall), the Broncos also sent a third-round pick to the Seahawks for the right to draft Lynch.
Here's hoping Joe Flacco and/or Drew Lock work out.
Detroit Lions: Asking Calvin Johnson to Repay His Signing Bonus in 2016
Over the five-year span from 2003 to 2007, the Detroit Lions drafted four wide receivers in the first round. Most of them turned out to be entirely forgettable.
Meanwhile, Calvin Johnson went on to become a first-ballot Hall of Fame lock.
But since "Megatron" retired after the 2015 season, he's had no real contact with the team. The Lions burned those bridges when they demanded Johnson pay back part of the $16 million signing bonus he received in 2012.
As Tim Twentyman of the Detroit Free Press reported, Johnson made it clear that if the Lions ever want to mend fences with him, it's going to cost them.
"They already know what they got to do," he said. "The only way they’re going to get me back is they put that money back in my pocket. Nah, you don’t do that. I don’t care what they say. They can put it back, then they can have me back. That’s the bottom line."
That the Lions did the same thing to Barry Sanders is as mind-boggling as it was classless.
Green Bay Packers: Drafting Datone Jones 26th Overall in 2013
It isn't easy to find a huge mistake for the Green Bay Packers.
Even though the Packers often draft toward the back of Round 1, they typically do a good job. For most of the past 10 years, longtime general manager Ted Thompson refused to spend big money on free agents, which spared Green Bay of egregious overpays.
However, not even the Packers were immune to the personnel pox that was the 2013 NFL draft.
Their selection of UCLA defensive end Datone Jones at No. 26 was hardly the worst pick of perhaps the most underwhelming first round in the last 25 years. But he also wasn't a difference-maker in Titletown.
In four years with the Packers, Jones started all of seven games and tallied nine sacks in total.
One pick after Jones, the Houston Texans selected wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins. Four picks after that, the Dallas Cowboys selected perennial Pro Bowl center Travis Frederick. And four picks after that, the Philadelphia Eagles took two-time Pro Bowl tight end Zach Ertz.
Houston Texans: Signing Brock Osweiler to a 4-Year, $72 Million Deal in 2016
When an NFL team gives up a second-round pick just to get an awful contract off its books, something went dreadfully wrong.
That's what happened to the Houston Texans in 2017.
One year after signing quarterback Brock Osweiler to a four-year, $72 million deal in free agency, the Texans gave the Cleveland Browns a Day 2 pick to take him off their hands.
Osweiler won eight of his 14 starts with Houston in 2016. But he completed only 59 percent of his passes, had more interceptions (16) than touchdowns (15) and posted a passer rating below 75.
That disastrous signing could have set the franchise back for years, but Texans general manager Rick Smith swung another deal with the Browns in the 2017 draft to move up to the No. 12 pick.
Houston then used that pick to draft Deshaun Watson.
Indianapolis Colts: Trading for Trent Richardson in 2013
The Colts' biggest mistake of the decade may have been everything that general manager Ryan Grigson did after drafting Andrew Luck in 2012. Or maybe hiring Grigson at all.
But one Grigson move looms above the rest as staggeringly bad.
The Cleveland Browns spent the No. 3 overall pick in 2012 on tailback Trent Richardson, who went on to average only 3.6 yards per carry as a rookie. He looked like more wasted draft capital by a franchise that had turned wasting high picks into a bizarre art form.
Enter Grigson, and a "hold my beer" moment before that was even a thing.
Two games into the 2013 season, the Colts sent one of their two 2014 first-rounders to the Browns for Richardson, who proceeded to plod his way to a miserable 2.9 yards per carry in 14 games with his new team.
He wasn't much better in 2014, mustering only 519 rushing yards and 3.3 yards per carry.
After the 2014 season, Grigson decided enough was enough and cut Richardson loose. He never played another regular-season down in the NFL.
Jacksonville Jaguars: Drafting Justin Blackmon No. 5 Overall in 2012
The Jacksonville Jaguars haven't had much luck with first-round picks over the past decade. They can only hope Kentucky edge-rusher Josh Allen, this year's No. 7 overall pick, is the exception to that rule.
Still, Allen would have a hard time becoming more of a bust that Justin Blackmon was.
Before Blackmon ever played a down for the Jaguars, he was arrested on DUI charges both while at Oklahoma State and not long after being drafted fifth overall. After catching 64 passes for 865 yards and five touchdowns as a rookie, Blackmon received a four-game suspension before the 2013 season for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy.
After returning and playing in four games, Blackmon was suspended again—this time indefinitely.
Blackmon was arrested on a marijuana possession charge in 2014 and again on a DUI charge in 2015. He hasn’t played a down since 2013, as the NFL has yet to reinstate him.
Kansas City Chiefs: Treading Water Defensively in 2019
This is one of the most recent mistakes featured here. It may also be one of the most costly.
In 2018, the Kansas City Chiefs possessed a buzzsaw of an offense. However, their tissue-paper defense cost them in the AFC Championship Game, and that defense doesn't appear to be any better in 2019.
Yes, adding Frank Clark would help any team's pass rush. But after releasing Justin Houston and trading Dee Ford to San Francisco, the Chiefs aren't any better off up front.
The same holds true on the back end. The Chiefs have a new veteran cornerback in Bashaud Breeland and a dynamic new safety in Tyrann Mathieu, but they lost corner Steven Nelson and released safety Eric Berry.
They also have a new 4-3 scheme and a new defensive coordinator in Steve Spagnuolo. But three of the last four defenses Spagnuolo coordinated finished outside the top 30 in yards allowed.
The Chiefs appear likely to make it four years out of five.
Los Angeles Chargers: Leaving San Diego in 2017
In January 2017, Chargers owner Dean Spanos did what was once thought unthinkable: He announced the team was moving to L.A after over a half-century in San Diego.
"After much deliberation, I have made the decision to relocate the Chargers to Los Angeles, beginning with the 2017 NFL season. San Diego has been our home for 56 years. It will always be part of our identity, and my family and I have nothing but gratitude and appreciation for the support and passion our fans have shared with us over the years."
The move to Los Angeles has been about as well-received as the Paul Blart: Mall Cop sequel was by critics.
The Chargers can't fill a 30,000-seat soccer stadium even though they fielded a 12-win team in 2018. When they move into a new stadium in 2020, they will do so as the guests of the Rams, receiving a fraction of the revenue the Rams will receive.
Interest in the Chargers in La-La Land is so nonexistent that rumors circulated in October about whether a move back to San Diego might be a possibility.
Los Angeles Rams: The Entire Jeff Fisher Era
The Los Angeles Rams are the reigning NFC champions. They have a two-time Defensive Player of the Year in Aaron Donald and one of the league's most electrifying offenses. Their future appears bright.
As such, it can be easy to lose sight of just how bad things were for the Rams not long ago.
OK, maybe "bad" isn't the right word. More like mediocre.
Over his five years as head coach of the Rams, Jeff Fisher solidified himself as the king of mediocrity. Three of those five seasons ended with seven wins. None ended in trips to the playoffs.
Fisher's last season was a 4-12 disaster that happened to be Jared Goff's rookie year. The same quarterback who looks like a perennial MVP contender under current Rams head coach Sean McVay appeared to be a massive bust in his lone season playing for Fisher.
Thankfully, the Rams have rectified their Fisher mistake.
Miami Dolphins: Drafting Dion Jordan 3rd Overall in 2013
The Miami Dolphins are in the opening stages of a ground-up rebuild. They'll likely have a high draft pick in 2020, perhaps inside the top five.
This regime in Miami needs to make better use of that pick than former general manager Jeff Ireland did in 2013 when he traded up to the third overall pick to take Oregon edge-rusher Dion Jordan.
Jordan's first season in the NFL was disappointing but relatively uneventful. By his second year, things started falling apart.
In 2014, Jordan was suspended for a total of six games for violating the NFL's substance-abuse policy. After submitting a diluted urine sample, Jordan was suspended for the entire 2015 season. He was conditionally reinstated in July 2016 but didn't play a down that season. The Dolphins then released him in March 2017.
In total, the Dolphins got three sacks and two missed seasons out of their 2013 No. 3 overall pick. Even in the nightmare that was the 2013 draft class, Jordan stands out as one of the biggest whiffs.
Minnesota Vikings: Drafting Matt Kalil 4th Overall in 2012
It was tempting to highlight Kirk Cousins' fully guaranteed three-year, $84 million contract here. But while that deal looks like a potential boondoggle, it's still too soon to pass final judgment on it.
There's no such uncertainty with offensive tackle Matt Kalil.
After a standout career at USC, Kalil was widely regarded as the top tackle prospect in the 2012 draft. The Minnesota Vikings selected him with the No. 4 overall pick that year, and he was named to the Pro Bowl (as an injury replacement) as a rookie.
But things quickly went downhill from there.
Kalil started all 16 games in each of his first four seasons, but he became a liability. After he missed almost all of the 2016 season with a hip injury, Minnesota allowed him to walk in free agency the following spring.
New England Patriots: Drafting Dominique Easley No. 29 Overall in 2014
The New England Patriots make fewer personnel mistakes than just about any team in football—a fact that likely has less to do with Bill Belichick's eye for talent than a culture in New England that has made any number of players perform at a level they couldn't repeat on other teams.
Defensive tackle Dominique Easley is an exception to that rule—in that he hasn't really performed anywhere since becoming New England's first pick in 2014.
After two years, three starts and an equal number of sacks, the Patriots released Easley, who went from athletic tackle prospect from Florida to flop in short order. The Rams picked him up, and he had 3.5 sacks in 19 games with Los Angeles. He's currently a free agent.
Even Darth Hoodie doesn't get them all right.
New Orleans Saints: Signing Jairus Byrd in 2014
New Orleans Saints general manager Mickey Loomis hasn't had many head-scratchers either in free agency or the draft. However, he isn't perfect.
In 2014, Loomis gave veteran safety Jairus Byrd a six-year, $54 million contract that quickly proved regrettable.
Coming off back-to-back Pro Bowl nods with the Buffalo Bills, Byrd was supposed to be a cornerstone in the New Orleans secondary for years to come. Instead, he played in only four games his first season in the Big Easy and had fewer interceptions over his three years with the Saints than he had in 2013 alone with the Bills.
Adding insult to injury, Byrd's contract put the cap-strapped Saints in a position where they couldn't afford to retain their own free agents, such as fellow defensive back Malcolm Jenkins.
Jenkins wound up Philadelphia, where he's since been named to three Pro Bowls and won a Super Bowl.
New York Giants: Hiring Dave Gettleman in 2018
The New York Giants have made a number of questionable decisions in recent years.
In 2018, the Giants spent the No. 2 pick on tailback Saquon Barkley instead of a quarterback such as Sam Darnold. Although Barkley won Offensive Rookie of the Year, the Giants' quarterbacking woes sent them spiraling to a 5-11 record.
The Giants did select a quarterback with the sixth overall pick in April, but their decision to choose Daniel Jones over Dwayne Haskins raised some eyebrows. So did their trade of star receiver Odell Beckham Jr., which only netted them safety Jabrill Peppers and picks that they used on nose tackle Dexter Lawrence and edge-rusher Oshane Ximenes.
General manager Dave Gettleman, who the Giants hired in late December 2017, made all of those moves.
None of them were among the league's top recent personnel decisions, to say the least.
New York Jets: Drafting Dee Milliner 9th Overall in 2013
The New York Jets' hiring of general manager John Idzik in 2013 was an obvious mistake. But considering recently fired GM Mike Macaggnan was only marginally better, there may be something in the water in Florham Park that robs executives of their ability to judge talent.
So, instead of singling out a general manager or new head coach Adam Gase, whose time with the Jets hasn't gotten off to the best start, we'll go with a poster child for a litany of first-round misfires in the NFL draft.
Back in 2013, Idzik settled on Alabama cornerback Dee Milliner with the ninth overall pick as a replacement for the recently traded Darrelle Revis. He was at least serviceable as a rookie, amassing three interceptions and 56 tackles over 13 games.
Those interceptions were the only ones of his career.
Milliner played in only three games in 2014 before he tore his Achilles tendon, and he was limited to five games in 2015. The Jets waived him in September 2016, and he hasn't played in the NFL since.
Oakland Raiders: Trading for Carson Palmer in 2011
The 2011 season was one disaster after another for the Oakland Raiders.
In early October, starting quarterback Jason Campbell broke his collarbone after leading the team to a 4-2 record to start the season. With team owner Al Davis recently having died, the Raiders were left with no general manager and a massive power vacuum at the top.
First-year head coach Hue Jackson stepped into that vacuum and decided to address the Campbell injury by swinging a trade. That worked out about as well as everything else has for Jackson in the NFL.
The Raiders sent a 2012 first-round pick and a 2013 second-rounder to the Bengals for disgruntled signal-caller Carson Palmer, who had been sitting out after demanding a trade before the season.
Palmer went 4-5 in his first season in Oakland and threw 16 interceptions against 13 scores. The Raiders missed the playoffs despite their 7-4 start to the season, which led to Jackson's dismissal.
After Palmer went 4-11 the following year, Oakland traded him to Arizona for a sixth-rounder and a conditional pick.
Philadelphia Eagles: Giving Chip Kelly Complete Control in 2015
It feels like eons ago that Philadelphia Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie made the ill-fated decision to lure Chip Kelly away from the college ranks.
Kelly's first two years with the team were fairly successful. The Eagles posted two straight 10-6 seasons and were NFC East champs in 2013.
But in 2015, Lurie also gave Kelly full control of football operations. He recently told Sheil Kapadia of The Athletic that it might be his greatest regret since buying the team.
"I don't regret the hiring of him because it was done with a really good thought process," Lurie said. "But, yes, I would say I regret giving him the kind of authority I gave him, yeah. That's an easy one."
Kelly made a series of questionable moves—including trading Pro Bowl tailback LeSean McCoy and signing DeMarco Murray to a massive contract—and the Eagles cratered.
Before the 2015 season ended, Kelly's time with the Eagles was over.
Pittsburgh Steelers: Drafting Artie Burns 25th Overall in 2016
Over the last 22 years, the Pittsburgh Steelers have selected only one cornerback in the first round of the draft.
General manager Kevin Colbert probably wishes he could have that pick back.
Artie Burns has been a massive disappointment since the Steelers took him 25th overall in 2016. Colbert didn't sugarcoat that while speaking with a Pittsburgh radio station in April (via Ed Bouchette of The Athletic).
"Artie lost his confidence and wasn't where we needed him to be and was replaced in the starting lineup," Colbert said on 93.7 The Fan in Pittsburgh. "He's had a good offseason...we had good meetings with him. He wants to be back where he was."
According to Bouchette, Burns is owed an $800,000 roster bonus on the first day of training camp. They already declined to pick up his fifth-year option, but it's currently unclear whether he'll even make it to training camp.
San Francisco 49ers: The 1st Round of the 2017 NFL Draft
For the most part, the first two years of John Lynch's tenure as general manager of the San Francisco 49ers have been well-received.
However, Lynch would assuredly like a do-over on his double-dip of Round 1 selections in 2017.
When the 49ers nabbed additional draft capital in a swap with the Chicago Bears and still got Stanford defensive lineman Solomon Thomas at No. 3 overall, it looked like the team had its cake and ate it, too. Alabama inside linebacker Reuben Foster was also widely considered the top available player at his position.
However, Thomas has been invisible in his first two NFL seasons, managing just four sacks over that span. And Foster isn't even on the team any more, as the Niners released him after he was arrested for domestic violence in November 2018.
Seattle Seahawks: Calling a Pass Play at the End of Super Bowl XLIX
Few teams in the league have enjoyed more success over the past decade than the Seattle Seahawks.
Since 2010, the Seahawks have made the playoffs seven times and won at least 10 games six times. In both 2013 and 2014, the Seahawks played for the Lombardi Trophy.
Seattle won Super Bowl XLVIII in convincing fashion over the Denver Broncos. A year later, it was one yard away from becoming the first back-to-back champs since New England a decade before.
Then came what Chris Chase of For the Win called the "worst play call in NFL history."
On 2nd-and-goal from New England's 1-yard line, Seattle head coach Pete Carroll elected to attempt a pass rather than just hand the ball to battering ram Marshawn Lynch. The result was a game-sealing Malcolm Butler interception—and an easy choice for Seattle's biggest mistake of the last 10 years.
Just run the ball, Pete.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Trading For (and Then Releasing) Darrelle Revis
When the Tampa Bay Buccaneers dealt the 13th overall pick in the 2013 NFL draft and a 2014 fourth-round pick to the New York Jets for Pro Bowl cornerback Darrelle Revis, general manager Mark Dominik was over the moon.
"We're thrilled," he said, per Adam Schefter and Rich Cimini of ESPN. "It's rare that you get a chance to add a player of this caliber to your football team. That's what motivated us."
Revis was coming off an ACL tear, but he was still considered arguably the NFL's best player at his position. "Revis Island" was very much a thing.
The trade turned out to be a disaster.
Revis made the Pro Bowl again in 2013, but it was much more due to reputation than performance. He wasn't a great fit in Tampa's Cover-2 defense, which required him to play a lot more zone than press man.
Per Dom Cosentino of NJ.com, Revis told Sports Illustrated that his knee wasn't right. And after one year, a number of failed attempts to trade him and $16 million down the tubes, the Buccaneers released Revis.
The Jets used that No. 13 pick to draft Defensive Rookie of the Year Sheldon Richardson, and Revis went on to win a Super Bowl with the Patriots in 2014. Meanwhile, Tampa got a bag filled with rocks.
Tennessee Titans: Drafting Jake Locker 8th Overall in 2011
Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota is heading into a make-or-break fifth season, but regardless of how he fares, he'll have had a better tenure than the last signal-caller the Titans drafted inside the top 10.
In 2011, the Titans used the eighth overall pick on Jake Locker, a big-armed passer from the University of Washington. However, Locker finished his collegiate career with a 16-24 record and never completed 60 percent of his passes.
Having a cannon for an arm doesn't help much if you can't aim it.
Locker was 4-3 as the Titans' starter in 2013 and finally crossed the 60 percent completion threshold. But he finished his four-year career in Tennessee with a 9-14 record and a completion percentage of 57.5
In March 2015, about one month before the Titans drafted Mariota, Locker walked away from football altogether.
Washington Redskins: Trading Up to Draft Robert Griffin III in 2012
Like there was any question regarding Washington's biggest mistake of the past decade.
The Redskins paid a massive price to move up to No. 2 overall in 2012 to select Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin, giving up three first-round picks and a second-rounder.
For a year, it looked like the gamble was going to pay off. Griffin was electric as a rookie, passing for 3,200 yards, rushing for 815 more and posting the highest passer rating by a rookie quarterback in NFL history en route to making the playoffs.
But Griffin blew out his knee in that playoff loss to the Seattle Seahawks, and he was never the same again.
Robbed of some of his mobility, Griffin's numbers steadily declined. He was 3-10 as Washington's starter in 2013, got hurt again in 2014, lost the starting job to Kirk Cousins in 2015 and was off the Redskins entirely in 2016.
It was an astonishing free-fall—and a ridiculously expensive mistake.