Every NFL Team's Most Boneheaded Decision of 2020

Brad Gagnon@Brad_Gagnon NFL National ColumnistDecember 3, 2020

Every NFL Team's Most Boneheaded Decision of 2020

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    Corey Sipkin/Associated Press

    No NFL franchise goes even a year without at least one bad trade, one regrettable signing or one personnel decision that earns ridicule. It's part of the process, even if it happens to some more than others. 

    And right about now, with December upon us and the homestretch looming, those mistakes became a little more glaring. 

    Here's a team-by-team rundown of boneheadedness from the first 11 months of 2020.      

Arizona Cardinals: Signing Jordan Phillips

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    Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

    Arizona Cardinals 2020 first-round draft pick Isaiah Simmons has struggled mightily in limited playing time as a rookie linebacker, but it's still a little early to throw the 22-year-old former Clemson star under the bus. It was a weird, abbreviated initial offseason for first-year players, and few rookie defenders have come through strongly in 2020. 

    Instead, this is a tossup between two questionable Arizona signings, neither of which has panned out thus far. 

    Both defensive lineman Jordan Phillips (who came over from the Buffalo Bills on a three-year, $30 million deal) and running back Kenyan Drake (who's earning $8.5 million on the transition tag this season) have failed to live up to their high salaries. 

    We'll side with the Phillips signing because he's the more expensive of the two, and he's made practically no impact with just two sacks and 10 tackles in the first three months of the season. But Drake's deal deserves a mention because he's been wildly inconsistent while often being outplayed by backup Chase Edmonds, who is averaging 4.9 yards per carry to Drake's 4.3.       

Atlanta Falcons: Retaining Dan Quinn

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    Michael Ainsworth/Associated Press

    The Atlanta Falcons probably shouldn't have paid Dante Fowler Jr. or Todd Gurley in the 2020 offseason, but neither deal has set the franchise back significantly. 

    The same can't be said of the team's decision to keep head coach Dan Quinn following a second consecutive losing season. That move is looking more foolish with every passing week. 

    Quinn is a defensive specialist whose defenses ranked 20th or worse in four of his five-plus seasons in Atlanta, and that unit surrendered 32.2 points per game during an 0-5 start before the front office finally pulled the chute. 

    Since then, under the tutelage of interim coach Raheem Morris, Atlanta has gone 4-2 while giving up just 20 points per game. It's a remarkable turnaround and a sign that Falcons owner Arthur Blank should have fired Quinn earlier in 2020.

    The team likely saved Quinn's job with a shockingly strong finish in 2019, but it became apparent by October that was a mirage. The problem is that it's now too late for Morris to salvage the season.      

Baltimore Ravens: Neglecting the Receiving Corps

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    Michael Conroy/Associated Press

    Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson has clearly regressed after winning MVP in 2019, and there might not be much the Ravens could have done to avoid that. Jackson's sophomore season was off the charts, and he's got a target on his back this year. 

    Still, sailing for Jackson might have been a lot smoother in the first three months if he had more experience, talent and depth to work with in the receiving corps. 

    The Ravens didn't have a single 600-yard receiver in 2019, but they doubled down on Marquise Brown and Willie Snead IV as their top two options in 2020. Brown has star potential but remains a work in progress, while Snead is a reliable veteran with an obvious ceiling. Neither has consistently stood out this season.

    Beyond that, the Ravens let Seth Roberts go in free agency, and they traded tight end Hayden Hurst to the Atlanta Falcons. And sure enough, they became so desperate for receiving help by November that they signed Dez Bryant, who hadn't played a regular-season game since 2017. 

    Jackson by no means is severely deprived of weapons in the passing game, but it's clear that Baltimore could have done more to support him ahead of what has become a trying season.      

Buffalo Bills: Replacing Shaq Lawson with Mario Addison

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    Brett Carlsen/Associated Press

    The Buffalo Bills defense has struggled more often than many likely expected in 2020. That unit has surrendered 25.6 points per game, and it has the 10th-lowest pressure rate entering December. 

    That's why the Bills should be kicking themselves for letting young edge defender Shaq Lawson go before signing veteran Mario Addison as his replacement. 

    Yes, Addison has more sacks (four) than Lawson does with the Miami Dolphins (two). But the 26-year-old Lawson has about twice as many quarterback hits and pressures, and he's a far better run defender than his 33-year-old replacement. 

    Both are making about $10 million per year, but Lawson is already a better player with far more potential moving forward. Buffalo probably would have been better off with the status quo.       

Carolina Panthers: Paying Christian McCaffrey

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    Brian Blanco/Associated Press

    It's almost become cliche to preach about the perils associated with paying big money for running backs, but the Carolina Panthers failed to learn from cautionary tales associated with Le'Veon Bell, Todd Gurley and David Johnson when they made Christian McCaffrey the highest-paid player at the position this offseason. 

    They're now paying the price. 

    Injuries have limited the 2019 first-team All-Pro to just three games in 2020, and the Panthers are 0-3 in those outings. At a rate of $16 million per year, McCaffrey has been outproduced by journeyman backup Mike Davis (4.0 yards per attempt compared to 3.8 for McCaffrey). 

    The sad reality is it's possible the 24-year-old peaked in 2019, and now the Panthers are pretty much married to him at a cost of about $34 million over the course of the next two seasons (two years' pay plus a dead-cap hit of $8.6 million if they part ways in 2023, according to Spotrac). 

    Somebody should have told Carolina that the NFL's nine highest-paid running backs failed to participate in the 2019 playoffs and that a team featuring the league's leading rusher hasn't won a Super Bowl this century.    

Chicago Bears: Trading for Nick Foles

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    Nam Y. Huh/Associated Press

    It might have only cost the Chicago Bears a fourth-round pick, but their decision to trade for veteran quarterback Nick Foles has already become problematic. 

    Foles may or may not be the starter when healthy moving forward, but he isn't the long-term answer. The 31-year-old is the league's sixth-lowest-rated qualified passer with an abysmal 6.0 yards-per-attempt average, and the Bears have won in just two of his seven starts. 

    Yet the team, which is projected to have practically no salary-cap space next year, likely can't get rid of Foles. That's because the well-traveled vet will cost $6.7 million with a dead-cap hit of $10.3 million in 2021, according to Spotrac

    Foles' presence on the roster enabled head coach Matt Nagy to give a quicker-than-necessary hook to fourth-year No. 2 overall pick Mitchell Trubisky, who actually has better numbers than Foles this season. Neither has earned the right to be viewed as a viable starting option for 2021, but at least Trubisky can be set free at no cost.    

Cincinnati Bengals: Neglecting the Offensive Line

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    Andrew Harnik/Associated Press

    Injuries happen, and Cincinnati Bengals No. 1 overall pick Joe Burrow's season-ending knee injury might have taken place regardless of whether he had the best or worst pass protection in the NFL. 

    Still, it's far from ideal that Burrow was lassoed with one of the latter, and the reality is poor protection was a factor when the pocket immediately collapsed on the play that prematurely ended his rookie campaign. 

    Burrow remains the most sacked quarterback in the AFC. He was under constant pressure for much of his 10-start run as Cincinnati's starter, thanks mainly to an offensive line that has been neglected at every position except left tackle and center. 

    Why did the Bengals think they could again get away with using spare parts at guard and backup-caliber veteran Bobby Hart at right tackle in 2020? That they entered the season with at least 60 percent of their O-line positions as liabilities is a testament to how cheap they are as a franchise. And in this case, it's likely a reason Burrow's progress has been significantly stunted early in his NFL career.    

Cleveland Browns: Letting Go of Joe Schobert

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    Stephen B. Morton/Associated Press

    The Cleveland Browns survived a close call against the 1-10 Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 12, but in the process they were reminded that they could really use current Jag and former Brown Joe Schobert. 

    The 27-year-old veteran, whom Cleveland let walk in the 2020 offseason, forced a critical second-half fumble and compiled eight tackles in a close game. He now has 93 tackles on the season for Jacksonville, which would lead the Browns by a wide margin. 

    Retaining Schobert would have been costly—he now owns a five-year, $53.8 million contract—but the Browns defense has surrendered 26 points per game. And of late they've been particularly vulnerable on the ground.

    Schobert was a key defensive leader and a crucial run defender during his time in Cleveland, and now he should be sorely missed by a team that is particularly weak at the linebacker position entering the homestretch. 

    With that in mind, he might have been worth the money to keep around.     

Dallas Cowboys: Passing on Julian Blackmon

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    Brandon Wade/Associated Press

    The Dallas Cowboys' decision to replace Jason Garrett with Mike McCarthy at head coach thus far looks like a misstep. However, McCarthy hasn't had a fair chance to prove himself in his new home because the Cowboys have been ravaged by injuries. 

    Instead, let's look at Dallas' decision to again neglect the safety position in the offseason. Despite a dearth of in-house talent in those spots, the team—which was already handcuffed by a lack of cap space in free agency—didn't use any of its seven draft picks on safeties. 

    One particular juncture might hurt the most in hindsight. That's the middle of the third round, when the Cowboys drafted defensive lineman Neville Gallimore three picks before the Indianapolis Colts took Julian Blackmon. 

    By no means is Gallimore a write-off—he's flashed a bit in limited playing time—but Blackmon is one of the leading candidates for Defensive Rookie of the Year. The Utah product has made several game-changing plays this season, including a forced fumble in a recent overtime victory over the Green Bay Packers. He's always in the right spot, he's been excellent in coverage, and he generally appears to be becoming a star.

    The Cowboys could have used a difference-maker like that in the secondary.      

Denver Broncos: Putting All of Their Eggs in Drew Lock's Basket

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    David Becker/Associated Press

    Like the Cowboys, the Denver Broncos' silliest "move" of 2020 was a lack of movement in addressing a position draped in uncertainty. In this case, that had to do with the quarterback spot, where general manager John Elway apparently decided 2019 second-round pick Drew Lock was the answer after the former Missouri standout limited his mistakes while winning four of five starts as a rookie. 

    Lock, however, has been crushed by a sophomore slump. Injuries and a lack of support have factored in, but none of that fully excuses the fact that the 24-year-old is the league's second-lowest-rated passer (67.5) with seven touchdown throws to 11 interceptions and a league-worst completion percentage of 55.6. 

    Among 25 quarterbacks who have attempted at least 40 deep pass attempts, the big-armed Lock ranks dead last with a passer rating of 35.0 on those throws. 

    Elway could have invested in Teddy Bridgewater. He could have rolled the dice on a season or two with Tom Brady or Philip Rivers. Or he could have at least shored up the position with Jameis Winston or Marcus Mariota. Instead, he put all of his eggs in Lock's basket with no other established players in that spot, and the Broncos (4-7) have paid the price.    

Detroit Lions: Retaining Matt Patricia

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    Paul Sancya/Associated Press

    The Detroit Lions presumably hired Matt Patricia in 2018 with the hope that he'd bring some of Bill Belichick's magic to a team that hasn't experienced sustained success in decades. But by the end of his second season in Detroit, it was obvious the Patricia experiment wasn't working. 

    Quarterback Matthew Stafford's 2019 back injury didn't excuse the fact Patricia's D ranked 31st in yards allowed and 26th in points allowed that year as the Lions followed up a 6-10 2018 campaign with a 3-12-1 2019 season. After all, the dude was supposed to be a "defensive guru."

    But management gave Patricia another shot, and he responded by starting 4-7 thanks to a 31st-ranked scoring defense as the Lions blew three double-digit-point leads in the first three months of the campaign. Even with a healthy Stafford, Patricia couldn't get it done. 

    Now that the Lions have finally decided to move on after an embarrassing Thanksgiving Day home loss to the Houston Texans, it's safe to assume the front office wishes it had just cut bait after Year 2.    

Green Bay Packers: Passing on Tee Higgins and Chase Claypool

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    Don Wright/Associated Press

    I'd really like to rail on the Green Bay Packers for letting linebacker Blake Martinez go ahead of a strong season with the New York Giants. After all, the Packers continue to struggle in run defense, and Martinez is suddenly performing at a Pro Bowl level as an off-ball linebacker in the NFC East. But Martinez got a lot of money there (three years, $30.8 million), and he wasn't a consistently reliable player in Green Bay. 

    Instead, let's focus on the decision that has garnered as much criticism as any move made this year outside of Houston. That came late in the first round of the draft, when receiver-needy Green Bay ignored Tee Higgins, Chase Claypool and several other intriguing receivers who were still on the board and instead selected long-term project quarterback Jordan Love 26th overall. 

    Higgins has 673 receiving yards and five touchdowns in Cincinnati. Claypool has already found the end zone 10 times as a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Meanwhile, the Packers still don't have an obvious No. 2 option to support Davante Adams, and Love has yet to throw a pass behind the league's highest-rated passer, Aaron Rodgers

    The Packers are Super Bowl contenders, but think about how much more dangerous they'd be with Higgins or Claypool on the roster instead of Love.     

Houston Texans: Doubling Down on Bill O'Brien

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    Brett Coomer/Associated Press

    Kudos to the Houston Texans for finally coming to their senses and firing failed head coach and extremely failed general manager Bill O'Brien early this season, but shame on them for letting O'Brien steer the ship into an iceberg before bailing. 

    O'Brien was always a poor game manager and a worse personnel manager who failed to get the most out of talented rosters in Houston, but the Texans inexplicably decided to give him more power by officially making him their general manager early in 2020—just in time for him to bury the team financially, trade away most of its draft capital and leave it in a do-or-die position without the quarterback's top weapon in 2020. 

    O'Brien's decision to trade DeAndre Hopkins is already infamous, but don't overlook the fact that he got a mere third-round pick in the package for Jadeveon Clowney, traded a third-rounder for Duke Johnson and another one for Gareon Conley, dealt two first-round picks and a second-round for Laremy Tunsil and Kenny Stills, gave up a second-round selection for Brandin Cooks and handed out bloated contracts to Tunsil, Whitney Mercilus, Nick Martin, Zach Cunningham, Bradley Roby and Randall Cobb

    Oh, and even though he was supposedly an offensive mastermind, O'Brien never produced a top-10 offense in his six-plus seasons as Houston's head coach. 

    The Texans should have been more proactive. Instead of giving O'Brien a larger role, they should have replaced him entirely well before he poured gasoline on his own fire in 2020.     

Indianapolis Colts: Signing Philip Rivers Instead of Teddy Bridgewater

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    Darron Cummings/Associated Press

    On March 21, the Indianapolis Colts handed quarterback Philip Rivers a one-year, $25 million contract in hopes that the 38-year-old might be able to suddenly become clutch and consistent and lead a team on a successful Super Bowl run despite the fact that he hadn't done so in any of his first 16 NFL seasons. 

    Five days later, the Carolina Panthers made only a slightly larger commitment (essentially a two-year, $42 million deal with a $21 million option in 2022) to quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, who is roughly 11 years younger than Rivers. 

    Thus far in 2020, Bridgewater has Rivers beat when it comes to completion percentage, passer rating, yards per attempt, QBR, third-down passing, passing in the fourth quarter of one-score games and even deep passing (despite the fact that isn't Teddy's strong suit).

    Rivers has never gotten it down when it has mattered most, and a new setting doesn't appear to be making a difference. He's got nothing ahead of him, whereas Bridgewater looks like a potential long-term option in Carolina. The Colts signed the wrong quarterback.     

Jacksonville Jaguars: The Way They Handled Yannick Ngakoue

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    Michael Conroy/Associated Press

    The Jacksonville Jaguars rank dead last in the NFL with 11 sacks this season. They really could have used a player like Yannick Ngakoue, who has registered six sacks despite bouncing from Jacksonville to the Minnesota Vikings to the Ravens in a span of about eight weeks. 

    But the Jags let their relationship with one of the top young defensive playmakers in the game go to hell before they were essentially forced to trade him for a second-round draft pick and a conditional fifth-round selection just prior to the start of the season. 

    That was never an appropriate return for a 25-year-old who forced a ridiculous 14 fumbles in his first four seasons and has already added three more in 2020. The Jags should have gone out of their way to ensure Ngakoue would be part of their rebuild because he's young and talented enough to shine for years to come. 

    Instead of just locking him up with a long-term deal, they hit him with the franchise tag, and the relationship between team and player deteriorated from there. That was a mistake.  

Kansas City Chiefs: Neglecting the Run Defense

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    Reed Hoffmann/Associated Press

    The Kansas City Chiefs might be the odds-on Super Bowl favorite entering December, but they remain vulnerable against the run. They rank fourth in the league in missed tackles, and their run D ranks 32nd in DVOA (defense-adjusted value over average) at Football Outsiders

    Linebackers Ben Niemann, Anthony Hitchens, Damien Wilson and Willie Gay Jr. have all been liabilities in run defense as the Chiefs have surrendered 4.7 yards per carry. 

    They could at least use veteran Reggie Ragland, whom they let walk. And in a perfect world, they would have invested in a player like Blake Martinez, Joe Schobert or Nick Kwiatkoski in free agency. 

    Now the Chiefs are left with a glaring soft spot on D. They'll just have to hope that isn't exploited by somebody like Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry come January.      

Las Vegas Raiders: Paying Cory Littleton

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    Danny Karnik/Associated Press

    This pains me because I believe Cory Littleton is a talented off-ball linebacker who played an under-the-radar role in getting the Los Angeles Rams to the Super Bowl two years ago, but the Las Vegas Raiders already have good reason to regret handing the 27-year-old a three-year, $35.3 million contract in the 2020 offseason. 

    Littleton hasn't performed up to snuff all year. Even before missing a pair of games while on the reserve/COVID-19 list, he hadn't made any big plays and was being outperformed by the less-heralded Nicholas Morrow. 

    When Littleton returned in Week 12, Morrow was more heavily featured on defense. 

    Littleton's always been decent in coverage, but he leads the NFL with 15 missed tackles, which is unfortunate considering that the Raiders are on the hook to give him $13.8 million in each of the next two years (with a potential $6.1 million out after the 2021 campaign).     

Los Angeles Chargers: Retaining Anthony Lynn

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    Doug Murray/Associated Press

    When the Los Angeles Chargers essentially started over by swapping out veteran quarterback Philip Rivers for first-round rookie Justin Herbert, who took over as the starter in Week 2 following Tyrod Taylor's punctured lung, they should have made a coaching change as well. 

    Anthony Lynn might not be bad for Herbert's development. But the coach was coming off a five-win season with a talented roster in 2019, and he's since gone 3-8 despite leading in the fourth quarter in seven of their 11 games.

    A lot of those collapses have been tied to Lynn's poor play-calling and game management, and that doesn't even cover what the heck happened at the end of the team's backbreaking Week 12 loss to the Bills. 

    Lynn is better-suited as a coordinator than a head coach. The Chargers will likely realize that soon if they haven't already, and they'll regret not having come to said realization earlier.            

Los Angeles Rams: Signing A'Shawn Robinson

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    Kevin Sabitus/Associated Press

    This is our first major nitpick in this exercise, as the Los Angeles Rams' hands have been tied this year by moves made in previous offseasons. The lack of big additions and a few departures were generally beyond their control.

    The Rams have also exceeded a lot of expectations, especially on defense, where they lost several key players leading up to 2020, so it's not easy to find boneheaded moves of late in L.A. 

    Still, they gave defensive lineman A'Shawn Robinson a two-year, $17 million deal in the offseason, and the veteran has yet to make a difference after spending the first half of the season on the reserve/non-football injury list. 

    That deal's been reworked with Robinson back on the field, but he's hardly a factor at a cost of more than $2 million this season. The 2016 second-round pick never became an impact player in Detroit, and he's not off to a promising start despite a relatively lucrative deal in Los Angeles.         

Miami Dolphins: Signing Byron Jones

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    Doug Murray/Associated Press

    The Miami Dolphins (7-4) have blown away expectations this season, but that has little to do with the presence of their most prized 2020 free-agent addition, Byron Jones.

    The Dolphins made the veteran cornerback the highest-paid player in NFL history at that position (he now ranks fifth on that list), which was odd considering that they already had the highly paid Xavien Howard on the roster. And while Howard has performed at a Pro Bowl level as the league leader with seven interceptions, Jones has zero picks and has allowed a 96.1 passer rating on throws into his coverage. 

    The Dolphins were fortunate to have plenty of salary-cap space, but that doesn't excuse poor expenditures. That money could have been used to further support rookie quarterback Tua Tagovailoa or bolster the pass rush to make Howard's life easier in coverage. 

    It was a strange move at the time, and Jones' continued inability to be a playmaker (he has just two interceptions in five-and-a-half NFL seasons) makes it a bad move in hindsight.      

Minnesota Vikings: Trading for Yannick Ngakoue

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    Stephen Brashear/Associated Press

    Yes, two teams are responsible for mishandling Yannick Ngakoue this year. The Jaguars mistakenly failed to fully appreciate the playmaking edge defender, and the Minnesota Vikings strangely dealt him away just 53 days after acquiring him from Jacksonville. 

    They gave up a second-rounder and a conditional fifth-round pick to get him in August but only received a third-round selection and a conditional fifth-rounder from the Ravens in October. Ultimately, they lost Day 2 draft capital and spent $6.8 million for six games with Ngakoue.

    And it's not as though he didn't deliver—the 25-year-old recorded five sacks and two forced fumbles to fill a major void left by the departed Everson Griffen and the injured Danielle Hunter. 

    Minnesota must have concluded after a 1-5 start that it wasn't going anywhere in 2020 and would likely lose Ngakoue in 2021. But the team has since rallied and could have used a difference-maker like Ngakoue right about now. Plus, the Vikings might have wound up with similar draft capital by way of compensatory picks if Ngakoue were to leave as a free agent in 2021.      

    Either they shouldn't have acquired Ngakoue at all or they should have just held on once they had him.

New England Patriots: Sticking with Cam Newton

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    David J. Phillip/Associated Press

    I get it. The New England Patriots likely did their calculations and determined that they weren't going to contend with an expensive, 43-year-old Tom Brady throwing to a watered-down receiving corps in 2020. They instead moved on and rolled with a younger, cheaper option with more upside, and I can't fault them for swinging the bat on Cam Newton at a bargain price. 

    So no, this blurb isn't about the Patriots letting Brady walk or adding Newton. Instead, it's about the team's decision to stick with Newton despite the fact that the 31-year-old seems to have lost it as an NFL signal-caller. 

    The league's fifth-lowest-rated passer has thrown four touchdowns in 10 games this season, with his 4-9 touchdown-to-interception ratio ranking ahead of only Sam Darnold of the New York Jets.

    Does anybody really see this guy suddenly carrying the Patriots to wins in January? And is anything short of a Super Bowl run worth New England's time at this point? The Pats should have thrown in the towel weeks ago and allowed 2019 fourth-round pick Jarrett Stidham to take the offense for an extended test drive. 

New Orleans Saints: Paying Taysom Hill Instead of Teddy Bridgewater

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    David Zalubowski/Associated Press

    There are times when Taysom Hill does more good than harm in the New Orleans Saints offense, and the Saints have gone 2-0 with Hill starting in place of the injured Drew Brees this year. But the reality is Hill's sporadic cameos frequently cost the Saints rhythm and momentum, and he still hasn't thrown a touchdown pass in his NFL career. 

    It's hard to believe the 30-year-old is the long-term answer under center for the Saints, and harder to believe he'd be capable of carrying the team if Brees weren't available during a Super Bowl run. 

    Instead of handing Hill a two-year, $21 million contract that will cost them $16.2 million against the salary cap in 2021, the Saints should have just retained Teddy Bridgewater with a guarantee that he'd relieve Brees, who many suspect will retire next offseason. Bridgewater is making $21 million a year in Carolina, but his deal isn't significantly more lucrative than Hill's over the course of the next two years. 

    Bridgewater has had a solid season with the Panthers and is a much more trustworthy backup. He would have been worth the extra cash in the short term.        

New York Giants: Sticking with Nate Solder and Several Unknowns at Tackle

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    Seth Wenig/Associated Press

    The New York Giants couldn't have known back in March that veteran left tackle Nate Solder would end up opting out of the 2020 season because of concerns related to COVID-19, but he was already an overpriced liability anyway. 

    The Giants had the cap space to be able to afford Solder's $13 million dead-cap hit. They should have just moved on at the start of the 2020 offseason and looked for alternatives in order to better support young quarterback Daniel Jones and eventual first-round pick Andrew Thomas. 

    Thomas has struggled this year, while Jones has been the most pressured regular starting quarterback in the NFL. Both could have used somebody like Jack Conklin, Bryan Bulaga, Rick Wagner, Daryl Williams, Jason Peters or even incumbent 2019 starter Mike Remmers, who has fared well in Kansas City. 

    Instead, they stuck with Solder, who opted out, and threw Thomas and journeyman backup offensive tackle Cameron Fleming to the wolves.     

New York Jets: Retaining Adam Gase

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    Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

    Considering the state of their roster, not even the ghost of Tom Landry could have coached the New York Jets to a decent record in 2020. But these Jets aren't any worse than last year's Dolphins, who still managed to win five games with Brian Flores serving as head coach. 

    Adam Gase shouldn't get a pass for an 0-11 start just because his team is rebuilding, especially because he should have lost the benefit of the doubt in his three previous losing seasons in charge of the Jets (in 2019) and Dolphins (2017 and 2018). 

    Critically, Gase is a supposed offensive guru. The Jets might have found a way to win seven games last year, but that had little to do with an offense that ranked 31st in scoring, 32nd in yardage and 32nd in DVOA

    The Jets never should have hired Gase in the first place based on his track record in Miami, but they should have at least cut bait after one ugly season. Instead, they wasted another year. 

    It's sad to consider how much more productive and encouraging this season could have been with somebody like Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy running things. 

Philadelphia Eagles: Passing on Justin Jefferson, Tee Higgins and Chase Claypool

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    Jim Mone/Associated Press

    The jury understandably remains out on Philadelphia Eagles rookie wide receiver Jalen Reagor, but that doesn't change the fact that the verdict is essentially in on three standout wideouts who were selected soon after the Eagles took Reagor with the 21st overall pick in the 2020 draft. 

    When they selected Reagor, the Eagles passed on Justin Jefferson (who is averaging a league-high 12.8 yards per target in Minnesota), Tee Higgins (who is on pace to push 1,000 yards and eight-plus touchdowns in Cincinnati) and Chase Claypool (who is one of five receivers who have already scored 10 touchdowns this season). 

    There's a chance those guys wouldn't have been as productive this year with the slumping Carson Wentz throwing them passes, but it's also possible any of them would have helped Wentz a lot more than Reagor, who entered the league as a project after modest production in the Big 12. 

    The predraft consensus—highlighted here by Bleacher Report draft guru Matt Miller—was that Jefferson and Higgins were better prospects than Reagor. There's still no guarantee it'll play out that way, but for now, it appears as though the Eagles got caught overthinking with their top pick.     

Pittsburgh Steelers: Neglecting to Add Another Quarterback

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    Michael Ainsworth/Associated Press

    The Pittsburgh Steelers operate in such a conservative manner that it can be difficult to identify boneheadedness within the organization. That's a good sign for Steelers fans. But we have a job to do, and no organization is flawless. 

    Considering their 38-year-old quarterback entered 2020 coming off a long recovery from surgery to reattach three tendons in the elbow on his throwing arm, the Steelers took one hell of a risk by not bringing in somebody reliable to back up Ben Roethlisberger this season. 

    No, Mason Rudolph doesn't count after the 2018 third-round pick struggled with his consistency and posted a 53.9 passer rating in his final three appearances in relief of Big Ben in 2019. 

    The team re-added Joshua Dobbs, but neither he nor Devlin Hodges has credentials that are any more impressive than Rudolph's. 

    It hasn't bitten them yet, but it's possible the Steelers will eventually look back on 2020 and regret not locking in a quarterback insurance policy with a veteran like Case Keenum, Marcus Mariota or Jameis Winston.      

San Francisco 49ers: Settling for a Field Goal on a 4th-and-2 in Super Bowl LIV

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    John Bazemore/Associated Press

    We're sort of cheating here for the San Francisco 49ers because this is the only in-game decision in this exercise, and it technically took place at the end of last season. But it still occurred in the year 2020, and San Francisco's campaign has been torched by the injury gods, so there's not much the team can control about its losing record thus far. 

    The reality is it would be a whole lot easier to swallow a lost season due to injuries if the 49ers had just taken care of business in the second half of their Super Bowl LIV meltdown against the Chiefs in February. 

    But no, head coach Kyle Shanahan became overly conservative by settling for a 42-yard field goal on a 4th-and-2 at the Kansas City 24-yard line in the third quarter of a tie game. At that point, quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo had completed nine consecutive passes and the 49ers' top-notch running game had gained 18 yards on three rushes against Kansas City's beatable defense on that drive. 

    You can't pass up opportunities for six points against Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs. Had the 49ers not wimped out there, they just might have won that game, and nobody in the Bay Area would be quite as annoyed by what's gone down since.     

Seattle Seahawks: Trading 2 First-Round Picks and More for Jamal Adams

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    Rich Schultz/Associated Press

    Jamal Adams is one of the NFL's best safeties. But he's played in seven of the Seattle Seahawks' 11 games this season, and the Seahawks have surrendered 27.3 points per game in those outings. Altogether, the Seattle defense ranks 26th in DVOA, which is just one spot ahead of Adam's former team, the Jets.

    In the summer, the Seahawks sent two first-round picks, a third-round pick and safety Bradley McDougald to the Jets in exchange for Adams and a fourth-round pick. And while there's little doubt that immediately made the Seahawks a better team on paper, it's beginning to appear as though his presence won't be the difference between a championship and a non-championship campaign. 

    Keep in mind that Adams will also need a new contract between now and the 2022 offseason, which could leave the Seahawks strapped for salary-cap space and without first-round picks from the two previous drafts entering the 2022 season. 

    By then, the trade will have only paid off if the Seahawks can call themselves a two-time Super Bowl champion. And right now—even with Adams—they simply don't look strong enough on defense.     

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Signing Antonio Brown

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    Kevin Sabitus/Associated Press

    It's worth noting that since inserting the newly signed Antonio Brown into their lineup, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have gone 1-3, and Brown has averaged just 5.8 yards per target while scoring zero touchdowns. 

    Those numbers are an indication the Bucs overtinkered and messed with a good thing by adding Brown, who joined the team after an eight-game suspension for his conduct off the field is clearly a lot less effective than he used to be on the field. 

    That yards-per-target average ranks 72nd among 88 qualified receivers over that four-week stretch. 

    Mike Evans and Chris Godwin are healthier now, and Scotty Miller is a strong young player who established chemistry with Tom Brady early this season. Brady instead seems to be locking in on Brown, and that strategy might be doing more harm than good. 

    Signing Brown was unnecessary, and while there's still a correlation-causation debate to be had here, the risk doesn't appear to be worth the potential reward.              

Tennessee Titans: Signing Vic Beasley Jr.

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    Wade Payne/Associated Press

    Before suffering a season-ending knee injury last month, Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow was sacked an average of 3.2 times per game. Only once all season did he play a full game without taking a sack, and that was in a Week 8 upset victory over the Tennessee Titans. 

    Tennessee's toothless defense has failed to consistently generate a pass rush all season. Only the Bengals have a lower pressure rate this year, and only Cincinnati, Jacksonville and Las Vegas have recorded fewer sacks. 

    That's despite the fact that the Titans invested in both Vic Beasley Jr. and Jadeveon Clowney ahead of the 2020 season. Those two 20-something-year-old first-round picks were handed one-year deals worth a combined $22.5 million, but they've generated a combined total of zero sacks, and that's unlikely to change because Beasley has already been released and Clowney is on injured reserve. 

    It's a tossup as to which move was worse, but at least Clowney is a three-time Pro Bowler worthy of a flier. Beasley for $9.5 million? That was always pushing it considering that the 28-year-old hasn't been a good player since he was a sophomore during an aberrational 2016 All-Pro season.       

Washington Football Team: Giving Up on Dwayne Haskins Jr.

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    Susan Walsh/Associated Press

    There are two ways you can look at this. Either the Washington Football Team made a boneheaded mistake by giving up on 2019 first-round pick Dwayne Haskins Jr. just four games into his first season as a Week 1 NFL starter, or it made a boneheaded mistake by passing on current Offensive Rookie of the Year front-runner Justin Herbert with the second pick in the 2020 NFL draft. 

    If the team is sure Haskins isn't the answer and that turns out to be true, declining to take a shot at Herbert or fellow top-10 pick Tua Tagovailoa could eventually be viewed as an act of football negligence. The notion that the WFT was confident in Haskins in April but was ready to write him off in October would be ridiculous if we weren't talking about this particular organization.

    But there's also a chance Haskins—who started just one year in college and had yet to benefit from a full, proper offseason before Washington banished him to the bench just 11 starts into his NFL career—will turn into a franchise quarterback, either with the WFT or elsewhere. In which case, oops!    

    Either way, the league's only nicknameless team erred in addressing the quarterback position in 2020. 


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