Every NFL Team's Biggest Mistake of the Past Decade
Mistakes are a fact of football, just as they are in life. They get made weekly on the field and in front offices during the offseason.
Of course, NFL mistakes are not all created equally. Some teams rarely commit head-shaking blunders. Others do so with robotic regularity.
Looking at you, Cleveland.
Over the past 10 years, every team has made at least one massive miscalculation. For some, it was a terrible play call or collapse in football's biggest game. For others, it was a wasted draft pick or terrible free-agent signing. Or perhaps a coaching hire sent the franchise's fortunes hurtling in the wrong direction.
Every NFL franchise has a decision from the past decade it would rather forget.
If only we would let them.
Arizona Cardinals: Drafting OG Jonathan Cooper at No. 7 Overall in 2013
The past 10 years haven't been especially kind to the Arizona Cardinals. The Redbirds have been to the postseason just twice since 2010 and have just one playoff win over that span.
That lack of success is partly due to a shaky record of first-round picks. The lowlight of the last decade in that regard has to be the selection of Jonathan Cooper at seventh overall in 2013.
Cooper was a consensus All-American at North Carolina in 2012 and was considered one of the top offensive line prospects in his class. The Cardinals apparently thought so—when they used the seventh pick on him, it marked the earliest a guard had been drafted since Jim Dombrowski in 1986.
To say Cooper didn't pan out is an understatement. He lasted just three years in the desert before being traded to the New England Patriots, and since then he's had stints with the Cleveland Browns, Dallas Cowboys, San Francisco 49ers, Washington Redskins and Oakland Raiders.
Atlanta Falcons: The Second Half of Super Bowl LI
With 8:31 left in the third quarter of Super Bowl LI, the Atlanta Falcons led the New England Patriots 28-3. The Falcons had dominated the game on both sides of the ball.
When James White reached across the goal line on the first drive of overtime, it gave the Patriots a 34-28 win—sealing the greatest comeback/collapse in the history of the NFL's title game.
No single play can be pointed to as the cause for this catastrophe—everything that could go wrong did for the Falcons on both sides of the ball. What can be said is that the Falcons can't seem to shake the hangover from the devastating defeat.
Since that Super Bowl loss, the Falcons have trended steadily in the wrong direction—from 11-5 in 2016 to 10-6 in 2017 to 7-9 each of the last two years. A 1-7 first half wrecked last year by the time it was halfway over, and it's going to be an uphill climb to make hay in an NFC South in 2020 that now contains Drew Brees and Tom Brady.
Baltimore Ravens: Making Joe Flacco the Highest-Paid QB Ever in 2013
In the Baltimore Ravens' defense, the team had no real choice but to give Joe Flacco a massive pay raise in 2013. After turning down a contract extension before the 2012 season, Flacco went on to peel off one of the greatest postseason runs in NFL history—culminating in a win in Super Bowl XLVII and MVP honors for that game.
But it didn't take long before the six-year, $120.6 million extension the Ravens handed Flacco began to look like a boondoggle.
From 2013 to Flacco's loss of the starting job in 2018, the Ravens made the playoffs just one time—in 2014. That was also the only time the Ravens won 10 games. Flacco didn't light up the stat sheet either. In 12 years in the pros, he's topped 4,000 passing yards just once and has never thrown 30 touchdown passes in a season or been named to the Pro Bowl.
Of course, when the Ravens moved on from Flacco, they turned the offense over to Lamar Jackson, so that appears to have worked out OK.
Buffalo Bills: Trading Up for WR Sammy Watkins in 2014
Sammy Watkins hasn't had an awful NFL career—he topped 1,000 receiving yards with nine scores in Buffalo in 2015 and won a Super Bowl with the Kansas City Chiefs last year.
But the "Kansas City Chiefs" part begins to show why trading up to use the fourth overall pick on Watkins in 2014 wasn't a great move.
Watkins' time in Buffalo was marked more by injuries than impact—he missed three games during that 1,000-yard campaign in 2015 and half of the following season. In 2017, the Bills traded Watkins (along with a sixth-round pick) to the Los Angeles Rams for cornerback E.J. Gaines and a second-rounder. It was an admission by the franchise that the pick hadn't panned out, and in the three years since, he has missed nine more games.
It's not just that the Bills used a top-five pick to get Watkins—the trade with Cleveland in 2014 also cost them the No. 19 and No. 115 picks in the 2015 draft.
Carolina Panthers: The Transition from Cam Newton to Teddy Bridgewater in 2020
It's the dawn of a new era in Charlotte. There's a new head coach for the Panthers in Matt Rhule. Defensive stalwart Luke Kuechly retired in the offseason. And when the Panthers open the 2020 season against the Las Vegas Raiders, it will be with Teddy Bridgewater under center.
Whether it was time for the Panthers to move on from the best quarterback the franchise has ever known is a subject of considerable debate. Supporters of Cam Newton point to his MVP award and the berth in Super Bowl 50 he led the Panthers to. Detractors point to a decline in play and a rash of injuries of late—injuries that have apparently spooked teams enough that Newton remains without one.
Still, Carolina's new regime could have handled the transition better. If the Panthers knew they were moving on from Newton, then aggressively seeking a trade partner earlier might have netted at least a Day 2 pick to help fill holes galore on both sides of the ball. If the team was waiting for something "better" to come along, then it's far from a sure thing that's what Bridgewater is.
It's a switch that will likely define Rhule's tenure as head coach—for better or worse.
Chicago Bears: Trading Up to Draft Mitchell Trubisky No. 2 Overall in 2017
It wasn't surprising the Chicago Bears used their first pick in 2017 on a quarterback. It was a tad surprising the Bears traded up one spot to No. 2 overall to get one, given that no one believed the San Francisco 49ers were going to take a QB.
What was surprising was the quarterback the Bears took—and with each passing year, the pick looks worse and worse.
In his second season in the league, Mitchell Trubisky did lead the Bears to a 12-win season and an NFC North championship. But the team made the playoffs as much in spite of Trubisky as because of him, and his third season contained major regressions from both player and team. This offseason the Bears both traded for Nick Foles and declined Trubisky's 2021 option, paving the way for this to be his last year with the team.
As if that wasn't bad enough, eight picks later, the Kansas City Chiefs drafted a young signal-caller from Texas Tech named Patrick Mahomes. Two picks after that, the Houston Texans traded up to nab Clemson's Deshaun Watson.
Ouch and double ouch.
Cincinnati Bengals: Drafting OT Cedric Ogbuehi 21st Overall in 2015
Since drafting A.J. Green fourth overall in 2011, the Cincinnati Bengals haven't enjoyed a ton of success in the first round of the draft—a streak the franchise no doubt hopes will end with Joe Burrow's selection in 2020.
Of a group of picks that varies from OK to uninspiring to just plain bad, Cedric Ogbuehi in 2015 is the biggest waste of the lot.
A sought-after prospect out of Texas A&M, Ogbuehi barely played as a rookie as he worked his way back from an ACL tear. He saw his first extensive action in 2016 and was one of the worst tackles in the league, allowing nine sacks in fewer than 700 snaps. 2017 wasn't any better—after switching to left tackle, he surrendered eight more sacks. The Bengals declined Ogbuehi's fifth-year option the following spring, and his fourth year on the team was spent mostly as a healthy scratch.
Cleveland Browns: Hiring Freddie Kitchens as Head Coach in 2019
Trying to identify the biggest mistake the Cleveland Browns have made in the past decade is like looking for a needle in a pile of needles—there are just so darn many to choose from.
There have been a litany of wasted first-round picks, whether Brandon Weeden in 2012, Johnny Manziel in 2014 or Cameron Erving the following year. The Browns had multiple first-round picks all three of those years, and not one of the players selected remains in Cleveland.
Then there's Hue Jackson and his 3-36-1 record as head coach from 2016 to 2018. That's an .088 winning percentage, if you're into math.
Yet somehow the Browns managed to top both of those—by giving the keys to the franchise's best roster in years to an unproven head coach who turned out to be in completely over his head.
The Browns entered the 2019 season as the hype darlings of the NFL. More than one pundit labeled them Super Bowl contenders after a flurry of offseason additions.
The Freddie Kitchens who earned a shot at the big chair with innovative play-calling as interim offensive coordinator in 2018 vanished in a fog of ineptitude. Whether it was play-calling, clock management or in-game decisions, Freddie Kitchens was awful in every way a coach can be.
Thanks in no small part to the bungling of Kitchens in his only year at the helm, the Browns wound up a 6-10 tomato can—again.
Dallas Cowboys: Signing DE Greg Hardy in 2015
After last year's disappointing season, it's tempting to ding the Dallas Cowboys for not firing Jason Garrett earlier.
But over the last 10 years, one move by the Cowboys continues to stand out as a blight on Jerry Jones' record as general manager.
When the Cowboys signed defensive end Greg Hardy in 2015, he was coming off a lost season in Carolina as his domestic violence case panned out. After serving a four-game suspension to open the season, he racked up four sacks in his first four games with the Cowboys.
Still, Hardy's time in Dallas was a mess from the get-go. The Dallas Morning News' Brandon George reported he was regularly late for meetings, and he made odd comments about Gisele Bundchen (Tom Brady's wife) and had a confrontation with Dez Bryant on the sideline after shoving a Cowboys assistant.
After one tumultuous season, Hardy and the Cowboys parted ways.
He hasn't played a down in the NFL since.
Denver Broncos: Moving Up to Draft Paxton Lynch in 2016
The 2016 Denver Broncos were both riding high and feeling low. Denver was riding high after a win in Super Bowl 50, but a slew of player turnover and a massive hole at quarterback cast great uncertainty over the franchise's future.
Denver tried numerous things to address the retirement of Peyton Manning, from acquiring veteran quarterback Mark Sanchez to moving up in the first round to select Paxton Lynch of Memphis. Sanchez didn't even make it on the roster through Week 1.
Frankly, Lynch didn't fare that much better.
When he started two games for the Broncos in 2016, it didn't take long to see that the lanky youngster with the big arm was in over his head. And by the time he started two more games in 2017, John Elway and the Broncos had seen all they needed to see.
Lynch hasn't thrown a pass in a game that counts since that 2017 season. He has fewer than 800 passing yards for his career with four touchdowns, an equal number of interceptions and a passer rating of 76.7.
Detroit Lions: The Calvin Johnson Retirement Fiasco in 2016
When Barry Sanders retired abruptly in 1999, the Detroit Lions filed a grievance to recoup part of the signing bonus from his last contract. That caused a rift between player and team that lasted for years before finally thawing.
That the team learned nothing is one of the most Lions things ever.
At the end of the 2015 season, wide receiver Calvin Johnson hung up his cleats. Yet again, the Lions demanded that one of the best players to ever wear Honolulu blue pay back part of his signing bonus. And yet again, that shortsighted move burned bridges between the franchise and a star player who remains estranged from the team.
"They already know what they got to do," Johnson told Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. "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."
Green Bay Packers: Drafting Jordan Love at No. 26 in 2020
The Green Bay Packers made it within a game of the Super Bowl last year, and the team entered the 2020 offseason with some clear holes to fill.
Quarterback was most assuredly not one of them—yet the Packers stunned fans and pundits alike by not only drafting Utah State's Jordan Love with their first pick but also trading up to get him.
Regardless of how you feel about Love as a prospect, this move is hard to justify. Aaron Rodgers didn't have a great statistical season in 2020, but he got the Packers to the NFC Championship Game and is still considered by most an elite quarterback. He also has an elite quarterback's salary—it will be 2022 at least before the Packers can move on from Rodgers without absorbing a massive cap hit.
Rodgers told the media all the right things when asked about his understudy:
"I learned a lot over those years working with Brett [Favre], things that I can bring the relationship with Jordan and just bring the mindset I went through as a young 21-, 22-, 23-year-old, playing with my idol as a teammate. I'll definitely take those lessons with me. Like I said before, I've always had great relationships with my backups and always loved helping those guys out in any way. The more questions they have, the more answers I have. I've truly embraced those relationships, and it'll be the same with Jordan."
Rodgers and the Packers can dress it up however they want. The franchise eschewed getting better in the short run for a potential successor at quarterback—a curious move indeed for a team that fashions itself a Super Bowl contender.
Houston Texans: Trading WR DeAndre Hopkins in 2020
You don't have to look back very far to see the biggest mistake the Houston Texans have made in the past decade—just a few months.
Not that there haven't been multiple gaffes by Bill O'Brien since he assumed the title of general manager. As executives go, he's an OK head coach. But one move stands head and shoulders above the rest:
Trading the team's best offensive weapon for 30 cents on the dollar.
In five of the past six seasons, DeAndre Hopkins has topped 1,000 yards receiving. In three of those seasons, the 27-year-old topped 100 catches. Over that six-season stretch, Hopkins scored 52 touchdowns and made the Pro Bowl four times.
He's one of the best receivers in the NFL—so the Texans dealt him for a 2020 Day 2 pick, a 2021 fourth-rounder and a running back in David Johnson whose best season came all the way back in 2016.
Yes, the Texans later added veteran receiver Brandin Cooks in a separate trade. But it's nigh impossible to see how these moves get Houston closer to the franchise's first Super Bowl.
The Brock Osweiler signing in 2016 (four years, $72 million...that actually happened) deserves a mention, as does making O'Brien GM in the first place since it led to Hopkins' departure. But essentially giving away an elite wide receiver takes the cake in Houston.
Indianapolis Colts: Trading for RB Trent Richardson in 2013
Back in 2012, the Indianapolis Colts used the first overall pick on Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck. Two picks later, the Cleveland Browns drafted Alabama tailback Trent Richardson. One was a good pick. The other, not so much—Richardson averaged just 3.6 yards a carry as a rookie.
Luckily for the Browns, an NFL general manager was about to swoop in and let Cleveland off the hook. That general manager was Indy's Ryan Grigson.
Shortly after the 2013 season began, Grigson sent the Colts' 2014 first-round pick to Cleveland for Richardson in the hopes that his rookie struggles were a fluke. They were not—Richardson averaged just 2.9 yards a carry in his first season with the Colts.
After he averaged 3.3 yards a pop on 159 carries during the 2014 campaign, Richardson's time with the Colts was over.
So was his NFL career for all intents and purposes. He had short stints with the Oakland Raiders and Baltimore Ravens, but Richardson never had another regular-season carry again.
Jacksonville Jaguars: Signing QB Nick Foles in 2019
In February 2018, Nick Foles and the Philadelphia Eagles completed an improbable playoff run with an upset of the favored New England Patriots in Super Bowl LII. Foles was the MVP of the game.
About one year later, he parlayed that success into a big payday—the Jacksonville Jaguars inked Foles to a four-year, $88 million contract that included just over $50 million in guarantees.
That Foles is in Chicago just one year later shows how the signing played out in Jacksonville.
It's not entirely the Jaguars' fault that the Foles signing blew up in the team's face. In his first start for the Jags, Foles suffered a fractured collarbone. By the time it healed, rookie Gardner Minshew II had played well enough to start a quarterback controversy. When Foles struggled after returning, head coach Doug Marrone came with a quick hook.
Just like that, the Foles era in Florida was over—Jacksonville traded the 31-year-old to the Bears in March for a compensatory fourth-round pick.
Kansas City Chiefs: Drafting WR Jon Baldwin in 2011
The Kansas City Chiefs are the defending Super Bowl champions. The team is one of the best in the NFL in no small part because the franchise has done a good job drafting in recent years.
The Patrick Mahomes pick appears to have worked out OK.
However, not every first-round pick the team has made over the past decade has panned out.
All the way back in 2011, the Chiefs were the defending AFC West champions. But Kansas City had been blown out in the postseason and was looking to bolster the offensive firepower at Matt Cassel's disposal.
To that end, the Chiefs selected Pitt's Jon Baldwin 26th overall. The 6'4", 230-pounder was a big-bodied pass-catcher who had piled up over 2,300 yards over three years with the Panthers.
But Baldwin's pro career was massively disappointing. He missed most of his first preseason after hurting his hand in a fight with a teammate. After just two years, the Chiefs shipped Baldwin to San Francisco. By the end of the 2013 season, he'd played his last regular-season game in the pros.
Las Vegas Raiders: Trading for QB Carson Palmer in 2011
In 2011, the Oakland Raiders got off to a solid start to the season at 4-2. But then quarterback Jason Campbell fractured his collarbone, putting that solid start in serious jeopardy. If that wasn't bad enough, the death of owner and general manager Al Davis left a power vacuum at the top of the franchise.
Enter head coach Hue Jackson, who proceeded to make things much worse.
The Raiders sent a 2012 first-round pick and a 2013 second-rounder to the Cincinnati Bengals for quarterback Carson Palmer, who had been sitting out after demanding a trade. Palmer went 4-5 in his first season in Oakland and threw 16 interceptions against 13 scores. The Raiders missed the playoffs despite a 7-4 start to the season, which led to Jackson's firing.
Palmer would start 24 games for the Raiders, throwing 35 touchdowns and 30 interceptions with a passer rating of 83.5 and an 8-16 record. In 2013, Oakland shipped him to Arizona for a pair of late-round picks.
Los Angeles Chargers: Leaving San Diego in 2017
There is no question what the Los Angeles Chargers' biggest mistake is over the past decade.
It's right in the team's name.
The franchise's move to Los Angeles ahead of the 2017 season has been a disaster on just about every level. At the time, Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times wrote that the Chargers shouldn't expect a warm welcome:
"The good news about the Chargers' move is that nobody will have to spend much money on a welcome parade. It will be a short one. There will be one limo carrying [team owner Dean] Spanos and one Brink's truck carrying his loot, both moving hurriedly up that freeway ahead of the muffled San Diego cries, all of Los Angeles peering briefly out the windows before closing their blinds."
He wasn't wrong. Attendance at Chargers games has been a joke—a partially full soccer stadium that sounds like a road game because the fans there are rooting for the opponent.
Moving into a new stadium that isn't theirs either in 2020 isn't going to magically fix the problem.
Los Angeles Rams: Giving RB Todd Gurley $45 Million Guaranteed in 2018
It was tempting to include the Rams' new uniforms as the team's biggest mistake of the last decade. That act of sartorial sabotage will haunt the franchise for at least the next five years.
But there's an even bigger error that Los Angeles only recently extricated itself from.
When the Rams signed running back Todd Gurley to a four-year extension in 2018 that made him the NFL's highest-paid running back, he was coming off a monster season in which he amassed almost 2,100 total yards and won Offensive Player of the Year honors.
For one year at least, the deal looked like an OK idea—Gurley ran for 1,251 yards, scored 17 times on the ground and helped get the Rams to the Super Bowl. But by the end of that 2018 season, Gurley's balky knee had begun acting up—a knee that turned out to be arthritic.
From there, the bottom fell out. Gurley topped 1,000 total yards in 2019, but he averaged just 3.8 yards a carry and saw his rushing average per game fall by over 30 yards. In March, the Rams released him.
That's not a great return for $45 million in guarantees.
Miami Dolphins: Trading Up to Draft EDGE Dion Jordan 3rd Overall in 2013
The last decade hasn't been fruitful for the Miami Dolphins—the team has one winning season over the last 10 years. A sketchy group of draft picks by a number of regimes didn't help matters.
Of that group, Dion Jordan was the biggest whiff.
Jordan didn't post huge stats in his last season at the University of Oregon—44 tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss and five sacks. But the 6'6", 248-pounder so impressed the Dolphins that Miami dealt the 12th and 42nd picks to the Oakland Raiders to move up to No. 3 overall and take Jordan.
Since then, there have been more problems off the field than dominance on it. Jordan was suspended six games total for violating the NFL's substance-abuse policy twice in his second season. Then he lost the entire 2015 season to another suspension. Jordan was reinstated in 2016 but didn't play a down that season either. The Dolphins released him the following spring.
All told, Jordan had three sacks with Miami.
Minnesota Vikings: Drafting Christian Ponder 12th Overall in 2011
There are two types of teams in the NFL—ones with franchise quarterbacks and ones that need one. When a franchise is in that second group, it can talk itself into doing some ill-advised things in pursuit of one.
Like, say, convincing yourself to use the 12th overall pick in the draft on Christian Ponder.
Ponder didn't light up the stat sheet at Florida State. In 2010, he barely cracked 2,000 passing yards and averaged just 6.8 yards per attempt. But after Donovan McNabb replaced Brett Favre at quarterback, Minnesota wanted a young quarterback badly enough to make Ponder the fourth passer taken in the top 12 in 2011.
By Week 6 of his rookie year, Ponder was starting. And to his credit, he started all 16 games and led the Vikings to a 10-6 mark in 2012. But by 2013 Ponder was in a quarterback carousel with Josh Freeman and Matt Cassel, and by 2014 he was finished as an NFL starter.
New England Patriots: The Jimmy Garoppolo Trade
It can be argued that letting Tom Brady leave in free agency in 2020 is easily New England's biggest mistake of the past decade—or two decades. But the process of moving on from the six-time Super Bowl champion could have happened a lot sooner if owner Robert Kraft didn’t become involved in personnel matters.
Bill Belichick had his heir apparent after selecting Jimmy Garoppolo in the second round of the ‘14 NFL draft. Ultimately, the Patriots traded Garoppolo to the San Francisco 49ers during the ’17 campaign for a second-round pick in the ’18 draft.
But the team knew it set itself up for failure long before the deal materialized.
"If we trade Jimmy, we're the Cleveland Browns, with no succession plan," one person in the organization told ESPN’s Seth Wickersham.
Fortunately, Brady played capably for the next two seasons, including another Super Bowl victory.
However, the Patriots are now in the same place they envisioned over two years ago without a succession plan. Garoppolo is seen as a franchise quarterback in San Francisco, while Cam Newton, who is operating on a one-year, prove-it deal, and former fourth-round pick Jarrett Stidham are stuck in Brady’s shadow.
New Orleans Saints: Signing FS Jairus Byrd in 2014
The New Orleans Saints have enjoyed considerable success over the past 10 years. To the credit of general manager Mickey Loomis, he's done more things right than wrong over that span.
Loomis and the Saints haven't been perfect, though.
In 2014, free safety Jairus Byrd was coming off his second straight trip to the Pro Bowl after intercepting four passes with the Buffalo Bills. The Saints rewarded that performance with a six-year, $56 million contract that included $28 million in guarantees.
The payoff on that investment was next to nonexistent.
Byrd made it just four games into his first year with the Saints before tearing his lateral meniscus ligament—an injury that ended his season. He played in 13 games the following season, but he had just a single interception. Byrd had 82 tackles in his one full season in New Orleans, but after three years and an equal number of interceptions, his time in the Big Easy was over.
New York Giants: Signing OT Nate Solder in 2018
The New York Giants' biggest mistake of the past decade is a mistake born of another mistake—the dreaded two-fer gaffe.
The Giants used the ninth overall pick in the 2015 draft on Ereck Flowers in the hopes that he would hold down the most important spot on the offensive line for years to come. By the 2018 offseason, it was painfully clear that wasn't going to be the case.
In an effort to remedy the problem, Giants general manager Dave Gettleman made it worse.
In 2018, the Giants signed veteran free-agent tackle Nate Solder to a four-year, $62 million contract. Solder hadn't been named to a Pro Bowl, but he'd been a quality lineman for the New England Patriots for several years.
Solder has been a sieve in the Big Apple. Last year, in just over 1,000 offensive snaps, he allowed a staggering 11 sacks.
Solder's contract makes moving on in 2020 problematic. But with rookie Andrew Thomas now in the fold, his days of "protecting" Daniel Jones' backside are probably numbered.
Well, assuming Thomas pans out.
New York Jets: Drafting Dee Milliner 9th Overall in 2013
The last 10 years have been choked with mistakes for the New York Jets, whether it was on the field or in the offseason. Gang Green hasn't been to the playoffs since losing the AFC Championship Game all the way back in 2010.
In 2013, the team had a pair of first-round picks. It used the second of those picks on defensive end Sheldon Richardson, who now plays for the Cleveland Browns. The first of those picks was spent on cornerback Dee Milliner, who now plays for no one.
Milliner was a consensus All-American out of Alabama in 2012, but his professional "career" was a disaster from start to finish. His rookie year contained many more downs than ups—he began the season as a starter but was benched multiple times for poor performance.
At least Milliner played most of 2013. In 2014, he appeared in just three games before tearing his Achilles tendon. The following season, a wrist injury wiped out 11 games. The Jets waived Milliner in 2016—he played in 21 games and registered just three interceptions as a pro.
Philadelphia Eagles: Putting Chip Kelly Completely in Charge in 2015
The first two years of the Chip Kelly era in Philadelphia went pretty well. In both 2013 and 2014, the Eagles won 10 games, and Philly was the champions of the NFC East in 2013.
But in 2015, Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie gave Kelly the additional responsibility of complete control of personnel decisions.
Kelly made a number of curious decisions—especially in the backfield. Philly traded Pro Bowl tailback LeSean McCoy to Buffalo. Despite the fact that DeMarco Murray's running style wasn't a good fit for Kelly's uptempo spread offense, the Eagles gave him a massive contract.
In hindsight, Lurie admitted giving Kelly personnel control was a mistake.
"I don't regret the hiring of him because it was done with a really good thought process," Lurie said, via Sheil Kapadia of The Athletic "But, yes, I would say I regret giving him the kind of authority I gave him, yeah. That's an easy one."
Kelly's 2015 Eagles started 1-3, and he was fired with one game remaining in the season.
Pittsburgh Steelers: Drafting OL Jarvis Jones No. 17 Overall in 2013
Mistake is a relative concept where the Pittsburgh Steelers are concerned. Not many NFL teams have enjoyed the sort of consistent success drafting that the Steelers have. Since 2010, five of Pittsburgh's first-round picks have played in at least one Pro Bowl.
No one's perfect, though, and even the Steelers have swung and missed.
Back in 2012, Jarvis Jones was one of the most sought-after edge-rushers in his draft class—a wildly athletic 6'2", 245-pounder who piled up 14.5 sacks at Georgia on the way to being named a consensus All-American and the SEC Defensive Player of the Year.
But after the Steelers made Jones the 17th pick in the 2013 draft, he was never able to duplicate his collegiate success at the professional level. In four seasons in Pittsburgh, he played over half the team's defensive snaps only once (his rookie year) and had less than half as many sacks in the NFL as he did in his final season in Athens.
After a cup of coffee with the Arizona Cardinals in 2017, Jones was done as an NFL player.
San Francisco 49ers: The First Round in 2017
The San Francisco 49ers are the defending champions of the NFC, and general manager John Lynch has done an excellent job stocking the Niners with young talent on both sides of the ball.
With that said, Lynch's first draft as GM didn't start out especially well.
The 49ers had a pair of first-rounders back in 2017, and three years into their respective careers, neither player has panned out.
Lynch spent the third overall pick on Stanford defensive lineman Solomon Thomas. To date, he's been a non-factor on San Francisco's stacked defensive line. Where players like Nick Bosa and DeForest Buckner have become stars, Thomas has just six sacks in three years. Per ESPN's Nick Wagoner, the 49ers have decided against picking up his fifth-year option.
At No. 31 overall, the Niners drafted linebacker Reuben Foster. The former Alabama star has had his moments on the field, but any he has moving forward will be for another team—the 49ers released him in November 2018 after he was arrested at the team hotel on a domestic violence charge.
Seattle Seahawks: The End of Super Bowl XLIX
Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll has done a lot right in his 10 years at the helm in the Emerald City. He has a .628 career winning percentage in Seattle, his Seahawks teams have made the playoffs eight times and the team won Super Bowl XLVIII in blowout fashion.
Carroll's Seahawks were this close to becoming the NFL's first repeat champs since the Patriots in 2003 and 2004 at Super Bowl XLIX.
And then it happened.
On 2nd-and-goal from New England's 1-yard line late in the final period, Carroll chose to call a pass play rather than hand the ball to Marshawn Lynch. The result was a game-sealing Malcolm Butler interception—and an easy pick for Seattle's biggest mistake of the last 10 years.
Some pundits are willing to go a lot further than just deeming it Seattle's biggest goof of the last 10 years. Chris Chase of For the Win labeled Carroll's decision the "worst play call in NFL history."
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Trading for Darrelle Revis in 2013
Tampa Bay Buccaneers general manager Mark Dominik was all kinds of stoked when the team dealt two picks to the New York Jets for cornerback Darrelle Revis in 2013.
"We're thrilled," Dominik said. "It's rare that you get a chance to add a player of this caliber to your football team. That's what motivated us."
The good feelings didn't last long.
Maybe the ACL tear Revis suffered the year before should have served as a warning. Or the fact that at the time, Tampa's Cover 2 defensive scheme was a poor fit for his man coverage skills. When Revis made the Pro Bowl in his first year in Tampa, it was based on name more than performance.
As it turns out, Revis later revealed he also had microfracture surgery, which definitely should have been a red flag for Tampa. By 2014, the Buccaneers were already looking to unload him. And in March of that year (after spending $16 million on Revis), the Buccaneers admitted their mistake and released him.
He went on to join the Patriots and win a Super Bowl that season.
Tennessee Titans: Drafting Jake Locker 8th Overall in 2011
In 2009, an NFL general manager told ESPN's Chris Mortensen (via ESPN colleague Adam Schefter) that Washington quarterback Jake Locker was a "bigger, taller, right-handed version of Steve Young."
The Tennessee Titans were apparently buying what that GM was selling. A year later, the Titans used the eighth overall pick in the 2011 draft on the 6'3", 234-pounder with the huge arm.
However, while arm strength was never an issue for Locker, quite a few other things were. He never completed 60 percent of his passes in a college season and threw 35 interceptions with the Huskies.
Both warning signs were evident again in the NFL. In four professional seasons, Locker completed 60 percent of his passes once—and that was just barely. He threw only 27 touchdown passes with 22 interceptions and was five games under .500 in 23 starts for the Titans.
By 2014, Locker had played the last regular-season football of his NFL career.
Washington Redskins: The Robert Griffin III Trade in 2012
For a year, it looked like the Washington Redskins were justified in sending a massive haul of draft picks to St. Louis for the right to draft Robert Griffin III. His electrifying play energized not just the Redskins but NFL fans as a whole. Griffin went 9-6 as a rookie starter, got the Redskins into the playoffs and won Offensive Rookie of the Year honors in 2012.
But Griffin injured his knee in a December game against the Baltimore Ravens and reinjured it in a playoff loss to the Seattle Seahawks.
It was a harbinger of things to come.
Griffin was back on the field for the season opener in 2013, but he wasn't the same player we saw the year before. His numbers took a significant dip in a number of categories as the Redskins finished 3-13. After another season of taking hits as a runner, he sat out the last three games of the season.
The 2014 season wasn't any better. Griffin dislocated his ankle, missed almost half the season and the Redskins went 4-12. Kirk Cousins was named the starter in Washington the following preseason, and by 2016 Griffin was in Cleveland.
The Redskins traded three first-round picks and a second-round pick for a player they thought would lead the team back to the Super Bowl. They got a quarterback who had one good year and a 14-21 record as the team's starting quarterback.