Every NFL Team's Biggest Mistake of the Past 5 Years

Chris Roling@@Chris_RolingFeatured ColumnistJuly 6, 2021

Every NFL Team's Biggest Mistake of the Past 5 Years

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    Bruce Kluckhohn/Associated Press

    The biggest mistakes in the NFL can derail a franchise for years. 

    Fans of certain franchises simply don't need any examples. The wrong head coach, paying up on the wrong free agent, going all-in around the wrong drafted quarterback, not pulling the plug on struggling coaching staffs—examples seem endless.  

    Even a smaller sample size restricting things to only the last handful of years provides droves of examples and at least one big whiff by each franchise. How many teams passed on Patrick Mahomes? How many names has the coaching carousel chewed up and spit back out? 

    Zooming in on the last five years, these are the biggest mistakes made by each team. 

Arizona Cardinals: Drafting Haason Reddick

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    Jennifer Stewart/Associated Press

    This is an embodiment of a much bigger problem. 

    The Arizona Cardinals used the 13th pick in the 2017 draft on Haason Reddick, a defender with huge upside based on elite athleticism, but never got much out of him. They played him at multiple spots but didn't get anything significant from him until his fourth season when he posted 12.5 sacks—then lost him in free agency to Carolina. 

    Overly gambling on athletic upside isn't an isolated incident for Arizona. The Cardinals have had the same problems with names like defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche. They did it again last year with Isaiah Simmons at eighth overall and he struggled. 

    Arizona not even getting quality depth via risky experiments in the early rounds—and then not keeping the talent if it eventually pans out—is part of the reason the team has struggled so much in recent years.

Atlanta Falcons: Failing to End the Dan Quinn Era Sooner

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    Brynn Anderson/Associated Press

    The Atlanta Falcons are a good example of not knowing when to pull the plug. 

    Atlanta hired Dan Quinn in 2015 and went 8-8 before surging to the Super Bowl in 2016. Then, regressions to 10-6, 7-9, 7-9 and 4-12. 

    Before the 2020 season. Quinn was a staple example of coaches on the hot seat who would surely be fired. The trip to the Super Bowl was clearly an anomaly, and the team's win-now core—headed up by Matt Ryan and Julio Jones—weren't getting any younger. 

    Instead, Atlanta kept Quinn in part due to a fluky 4-0 streak to close 2019 (all against sub-.500 teams), and he started last season 0-5 before getting fired, leaving the team circling the drain en route to 4-12. 

    Now the Falcons have fully started over, trading away Julio Jones, drafting a tight end in the top five and still sitting on just $9.6 million in cap space, so things might get worse before they can get better.

Baltimore Ravens: The Joe Flacco Extension

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    Tim Tai/Associated Press

    It's hard to take aim at the Baltimore Ravens for making mistakes because...the front office just doesn't make that many. 

    But it sure loved making Joe Flacco the NFL's highest-paid player. 

    The Ravens didn't really have a choice in doing that the first go-round, hitting Flacco with a six-year pact worth $120.6 million in 2013 after a trip to the Super Bowl. But the $66.4 million extension over three years in 2016, just three years later, was odd. That made Flacco the NFL's highest-paid player

    Yes, the Ravens had some cap reasons for doing the extension. But we're talking about making a guy who spent the 2015 season throwing 14 touchdowns and 12 interceptions over 10 games as the richest player in the league. 

    Flacco lasted just three more years in Baltimore, never throwing more than 20 touchdowns in a season and making the playoffs once, a loss. His approximate value on Pro Football Reference, which had been in the double digits in six of his first seven seasons, never squeaked past nine. 

Buffalo Bills: Drafting Cody Ford in 2019

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    Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press

    Like Baltimore, Buffalo doesn't make a ton of mistakes—and it sure doesn't hurt that a recent quarterback gamble has produced MVP-level play. 

    That makes it easier to throw the spotlight on something like 2019 second-rounder Cody Ford (ninth overall pick Ed Oliver is flirting with the bust label too). 

    Projected as a tackle, Ford made it in all 16 games as a rookie and got called for eight penalties and allowed seven sacks, earning a 52.4 Pro Football Focus grade (a replaceable grade, the lowest mark on the grading scale). 

    Buffalo kicked Ford inside as a sophomore and over seven appearances, he graded at a 53.8, albeit with no sacks allowed. It's the sort of poor early drafting a team like Buffalo can't afford when trying to build around a player like Josh Allen. 

Carolina Panthers: Letting Cam Newton Walk in 2020

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    Ben Margot/Associated Press

    It was a bit of a head-scratcher when the Carolina Panthers decided to let Cam Newton walk after the 2019 season. 

    Newton, if nothing else, could have been a nice bridge-gap player until the team could find a new long-term solution under center. Yes, he only played in two games during the 2019 season while battling nagging injuries. 

    But 2018 was a strong showing for Newton, as he completed 67.9 percent of his passes with 24 touchdowns and 13 interceptions, so there was recent enough proof that if his body was right, the team could remain competitive. 

    Instead, Carolina opted for the unknown with Teddy Bridgewater. The veteran played in 15 games and completed 69.1 percent of his passes, but with just 15 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. The Panthers were quick to ship him away this offseason after gambling the franchise on acquiring Sam Darnold. 

Chicago Bears: Trading Up for Mitchell Trubisky in 2017

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    Brett Duke/Associated Press

    Say hello to a poster child for a list like this. 

    Desperate to get it right at quarterback, the Chicago Bears and general manager Ryan Pace traded up to second overall in 2017 to select North Carolina passer Mitchell Trubisky. 

    At the time, Trubisky wasn't that sure of a thing (neither was Patrick Mahomes or Deshaun Watson, to be fair). But it quickly proved to be a devastating decision.

    While those quarterbacks went on to quick success as soon as they saw the field, Trubisky threw seven touchdowns and interceptions over 330 attempts as a rookie and eventually worked his way to a career completion percentage of 64.0 percent with just 6.7 yards per attempt. 

    Chicago would eventually own up the mistake, adding Nick Foles, then Andy Dalton and finally another trade-up gamble on Justin Fields this offseason, which Bears fans have to hope doesn't go a similar route given this front office's track record so far. 

Cincinnati Bengals: Drafting John Ross III in 2019

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    David Richard/Associated Press

    The Cincinnati Bengals have had a brutal time of drafting in recent years, whether it's tabbing Cedric Ogbuehi as an Andrew Whitworth replacement or just not being able to keep early-round investments healthy. 

    Then there's John Ross III. 

    Cincinnati made Ross the ninth pick in 2017, and he played in just three games as a rookie. He got in 13 as a sophomore, actually scoring seven times as a creative red-zone weapon. He then appeared in just 11 games over the next two seasons before leaving. 

    Make no mistake, some of this falls on a miserable coaching staff that refused to use Ross smartly, throwing him endless deep shots instead of putting the ball in his hands early and letting him create. But he never had a catch percentage better than 50 percent over four seasons, and now he's struggling to make a roster elsewhere. 

    The Bengals, by the way, made Ross the pick while ho-hum starter Andy Dalton remained the quarterback. Patrick Mahomes came off the board with the very next pick and Deshaun Watson three picks later.

Cleveland Browns: Hiring Freddie Kitchens as Head Coach in 2019

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    David Richard/Associated Press

    Though the tide seems to be turning for the better quickly now, the Cleveland Browns were only recently a disaster zone of horrible decisions. 

    Hue Jackson and his 3-36-1 record from 2016 to 2018 used to top the list. But the Browns managed to one-up themselves in a competition in which they were the only participant by promoting Freddie Kitchens to head coach in 2019. 

    Kitchens had flashed as a play-caller, but promoting from a miserable staff was like picking the brightest of spent lightbulbs. After never being more than a positional coach until 2018, Kitchens was in over his head as head coach, went 6-10 and got fired after one season. 

    To paint it in an even worse light, the Browns immediately rebounded and lived up to offseason-hype-machine status, while Kitchens went on to be a tight ends coach and senior offensive assistant with New York Giants. 

Dallas Cowboys: Drafting Ezekiel Elliott in 2016

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    LM Otero/Associated Press

    This one might not be popular with Dallas Cowboys fans, but the team's commitment to doubling down on Ezekiel Elliott has hurt it. 

    Dallas made Elliott the fourth pick in 2016, picking a devalued position over names like Jalen Ramsey, Ronnie Stanley, DeForest Buckner and Jack Conklin. 

    Since, Elliott has averaged 4.5 yards per carry with 46 touchdowns over 71 games, and the Cowboys have made the playoffs just twice with a single win. One could argue Dak Prescott didn't need Elliott in the backfield to be effective—the star back averaged just 4.0 yards per carry as his team went 6-10 last year with the franchise passer hurt, anyway. 

    Despite this, the Cowboys hit Elliott with a six-year extension worth $90 million, and cutting him loose this year would have a $36.9 million dead-cap charge for a team with just $5 million in cap space. While other teams thrive with later-round or even undrafted backs like James Robinson, the Cowboys keep doubling down on a mistake. 

Denver Broncos: Drafting Paxton Lynch in 2016

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    Matt York/Associated Press

    This one is just a small part of a bigger problem. 

    Denver's front office has simply not been able to figure out the quarterback position outside of backing into an end-of-career Peyton Manning

    Paxton Lynch is a top example. Denver traded up to grab him 26th in the 2016 draft. He was bad over three appearances in 2016, then more of the same over two games as a sophomore, albeit while battling some injuries. 

    Lynch then couldn't beat out journeyman Case Keenum or an experiment like Chad Kelly for second-string duties and was cut before the 2018 season, not resurfacing elsewhere as a backup until 2019. 

    Not only was taking Lynch a gross misuse of a premium resource, it merely started the trend that has continued with Joe Flacco, Drew Lock, Brandon Allen and now Teddy Bridgewater. 

Detroit Lions: Not Firing Matt Patricia After 2 Seasons

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    Paul Sancya/Associated Press

    Detroit Lions head coach Matt Patricia was on any reasonable hot-seat list after two seasons. 

    Patricia had the stigma of another Bill Belichick understudy from New England who floundered in new surroundings when he arrived in 2018. It also hurt that his predecessor David Caldwell had gone 9-7 two seasons in a row and even achieved 11-5 (2014) for a franchise that had otherwise reached the double-digit win mark once since 1995. 

    The Lions immediately face-planted under Patricia, regressing to 6-10 in 2018 and then even further to 3-12-1 in 2019. That apparently wasn't enough for the Lions front office, so Patricia got to start 4-7 in 2020 before getting shown the door. 

    Detroit went on to finish 5-11, swapped Matthew Stafford for Jared Goff and doesn't appear to have the juice necessary to right the ship quickly after grazing the iceberg. 

Green Bay Packers: The Aaron Rodgers Debacle

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    Jeffrey Phelps/Associated Press

    It isn't too hard to see why Aaron Rodgers remains engaged in a standoff with the Green Bay Packers. 

    Things are so bad between the two parties that ProFootballTalk's Mike Florio reported there was a thought the 2020 MVP could opt out of next season to avoid playing for the Packers again. 

    Green Bay has itself to blame, really. One of the constant criticisms of the front office was not doing enough to surround Rodgers with more talent. The 2020 draft now sticks out as a lowlight, as the Packers used a first-round pick on quarterback Jordan Love instead of helping Rodgers—a bona fide No. 1 wideout like Tee Higgins came off the board a few picks later. 

    Genuinely confusing roster-building persists. Think, using a second-round pick on running back AJ Dillon in 2020, only to turn around and pay running back Aaron Jones $48 million over four seasons while letting a star offensive lineman like Corey Linsley leave via free agency. 

    Should things get worse, this debacle will make decadelong lists soon enough. 

Houston Texans: Trading WR DeAndre Hopkins in 2020

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    Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

    It's hard to pick just a single item to hit the Houston Texans for, especially given the disastrous Bill O'Brien era as a whole. 

    But trading a top-five receiver for a running back and second- and fourth-round draft picks is up there.

    To his credit, O'Brien won double-digit games in 2018-19 while feasting on a poor AFC South. But the roster-building trends were head-scratching at best and led to his firing after an 0-4 start in 2020 that led to a 4-12 finish. 

    Part of that debacle was losing star receiver DeAndre Hopkins in a trade with Arizona for minimal return, then trying to replace his production with the odd tandem of Brandin Cooks and Randall Cobb

    While the Texans enter the league's biggest rebuild, Nuk continues to flourish in Arizona on a contender alongside fellow former Texans teammate J.J. Watt. 

Indianapolis Colts: Failing Andrew Luck

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    Michael Conroy/Associated Press

    This one is a little broad, but it isn't often a team can lose a top-10 passer to retirement before he turns 30 years old. 

    But the Indianapolis Colts did just that with Andrew Luck, who elected to hang up the cleats after a 2018 season following a career marred by injuries due to an organization that just didn't do enough to protect him. 

    Luck, a prolific franchise passer who posted seven game-winning drives as a rookie in 2012 and a slew of records, is one of the most notable players to ever call it quits in the middle of his prime.

    The Colts, a team that once infamously traded a first-round pick for running back Trent Richardson, didn't take the need on the offensive line seriously enough until it was too late—Luck took 174 sacks over 86 games, never mind the countless other hits. 

    Due to the debacle, the Colts have been left blindly grasping at gambles like Philip Rivers and Carson Wentz. 

Jacksonville Jaguars: Paying Up for Nick Foles in 2019

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    Phelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press

    The Jacksonville Jaguars throwing big money at Nick Foles feels like it was universally panned. 

    And why not? Foles, though a playoff hero in Philadelphia, had never shown much during the regular season. Jacksonville threw a four-year contract worth $88 million at him in the hopes he could stabilize the franchise and win some games. 

    Instead, Foles went 0-4, throwing three touchdowns and four interceptions and got traded the offseason after for a fourth-round pick. Injuries didn't help matters, but Foles remains a 62.3 percent passer for his career with a 6.8 yards-per-attempt mark, so the flop and his hardly sticking in a competition with Justin Fields and Andy Dalton now is just as predictable. 

    To their credit, the Jaguars pulled the plug and got out as fast as possible, but it was money and time that could have been poured elsewhere during a dramatic rebuild. 

Kansas City Chiefs: Trading for Frank Clark in 2019

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    Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

    It's pretty hard to poke a hole in what the Kansas City Chiefs have done in recent years, as even the offensive line collapse in the Super Bowl was somewhat bad luck due to injuries. 

    But the Frank Clark trade sticks out as a so-so ordeal. The Chiefs sent a first and second-round pick to the Seattle Seahawks for Clark in 2019, then gave him a five-year extension worth $104 million

    Clark didn't just prevent the Chiefs defense from collapse and needing a complete rebuild; he's managed just 14 sacks over two seasons in Kansas City after 13 during his final season in Seattle. Last year, he struggled to the point of a 54.5 PFF grade. 

    To make it look just a little bit worse, one of the players Clark took over for—Justin Houston—went on to flourish in new surroundings, posting 19 sacks over the last two seasons. 

Las Vegas Raiders: The Jon Gruden Contract

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    John Locher/Associated Press

    The Las Vegas Raiders went all-in on bringing aboard Jon Gruden, including the hype, expectations and a 10-year deal worth $100 million, the richest deal for a coach ever. 

    After three years, Gruden has yet to squeak above .500. 

    Fair or not, Gruden arrived, traded away notables like Khalil Mack and produced 4-12, 7-9 and 8-8 seasons for a team that had won 12 games just two years prior under the supervision of Jack Del Rio. 

    Plenty of circumstances help explain the record to date, and a brutal AFC West doesn't help. But Gruden has been all right at drafting at best, with notable distraction-worthy signings like Antonio Brown and Vontaze Burfict, and odd roster-building, like paying Kenyan Drake this offseason despite using a first-round pick on a running back in 2020. 

    Maybe Gruden isn't on the hot seat given the so-so upward swing, but the Raiders spent a whole lot of cash for those so-so results. 

Los Angeles Chargers: Leaving San Diego in 2017

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    Steve Luciano/Associated Press

    It's all in the name. 

    There are a handful of on-field-related things to point at when it comes to the Los Angeles Chargers, such as the unwillingness to let Justin Herbert start from the jump last year or the first-round selection of Jerry Tillery. 

    But fleeing San Diego and dedicated fans for Los Angeles is the biggest sin of all. The relocated Chargers, despite fielding a pretty competitive team, struggled to sell out a soccer stadium and in 2020 started sharing a stadium with the Los Angeles Rams. 

    That's a whole lot of ill will—or even worse, disinterest—to drum up merely for supposed greener pastures. Herbert looks like a superstar, but does it matter if only a fraction of the team's past support cares and the team can't make headway in a shared, oversaturated market?

Los Angeles Rams: The Todd Gurley Contract

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    Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

    We can finally stop slapping around the Los Angeles Rams for the Jeff Fisher era and even admire the fact the franchise turned Jared Goff into Matthew Stafford. 

    But that Todd Gurley deal sure keeps looking like a black eye. 

    The Rams made Gurley the NFL's highest-paid back in the summer of 2018 (four years, $57.5 million) after a monster 2017 in which he totaled 2,000-plus yards and earned Offensive Player of the Year honors.

    Then the wheels started falling off. Right on cue for the "never pay running backs" crowd, Gurley regressed to 1,251 yards, albeit with 17 touchdowns. He regressed further to 857 yards the year after, and an arthritic knee saw him off the team completely. He went on to play 15 games last year in Atlanta and now remains a free agent. 

    Unfortunately for the Rams, they fell into a trap and now stand as another example for other teams to cite when roster-building. 

Miami Dolphins: Trading Away Minkah Fitzpatrick

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    Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

    The Miami Dolphins have done a solid job of building around head coach Brian Flores' vision so far, even hitting the 10-win mark last season. 

    But losing a talent like safety Minkah Fitzpatrick isn't an easy pill to take down. 

    Fitzpatrick, a first-round pick in 2018, was a rising star in the league before the Dolphins shipped him to Pittsburgh for a first-, fifth- and sixth-round picks. He's now the fifth-best safety in the NFL entering the 2021 season in the minds of PFF

    The 18th pick in 2020 that Miami obtained in the trade went to USC offensive tackle Austin Jackson, who had his highs and lows on the way to a 52.3 PFF grade over 848 snaps. 

    While the aim was trading away premier talent in the hopes of a long-term rebuild and Jackson could still pan out as a starter, the Dolphins could have just as easily worked things out with Fitzpatrick, given him an extension and kept one of the league's premier secondary players. 

Minnesota Vikings: Drafting Garrett Bradbury in 2018

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    One can't fault the Minnesota Vikings for most of their win-now moves, whether it's paying up for Kirk Cousins or building around him. 

    But recently, making Garrett Bradbury a first-round pick sticks out as an issue. 

    Bradbury, the 18th pick in 2019, got in 16 games as a rookie and flopped over 989 snaps, earning a 58.1 PFF grade (including multiple games with a pass-blocking grade of zero). He wasn't much better the year after over similar usage, earning a 61.4 PFF grade. To date, he's been called for 12 penalties and allowed nine sacks. 

    Swinging and missing on a first-rounder wouldn't normally be so bad, but the Vikings displaced the effective Pat Elflein to make it happen. Even worse, Elgton Jenkins (No. 44) and Erik McCoy (No. 48) were the next two centers drafted and have turned in superb early returns. 

New England Patriots: The Split from Tom Brady

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    Charles Krupa/Associated Press

    Too easy, right? 

    No matter what the reasoning, the New England Patriots should have never let Tom Brady leave town. It blew up in their faces more than one could have probably predicted since he went on to win a Super Bowl in Tampa Bay, but it should have never been permitted to happen regardless. 

    It's not just a matter of losing one of the best players ever, either—even if it should be. The Patriots bumbled their way through insurance policies, struggling to draft effective names at the position and trading away Jimmy Garoppolo. 

    When the time arose to actually find a viable new starter, the Patriots had to fall back on Cam Newton, who mustered eight touchdown passes over 368 attempts last year. Now the Patriots spent this offseason going all-in on being uncharacteristically aggressive in remaking the roster to suit his skill set. 

    Brady, meanwhile, has eyes on a repeat. 

New Orleans Saints: Trading Up for Marcus Davenport in 2018

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    Chris Szagola/Associated Press

    It's hard to poke a hole in how well the New Orleans Saints have drafted in recent years. The front office typically gets superb value across the boards in draft classes and is a low-key reason for the team's continued on-field success. 

    Except for that hiccup in 2018. 

    There, the Saints sacrificed multiple first-rounders in a trade with Green Bay to move up to No. 14 and take a gamble on UTSA's Marcus Davenport. By the draft slot itself and the big move just to make it happen, one would expect big production from the edge-rusher right away. 

    Instead, Davenport has just 12 sacks over 37 games. He's been average as a disruptor while on the field and struggled with nagging injuries. Even though the stat sheet says he's played in 11 or more games in each of his first three seasons, the Saints have never turned him loose for more than 50 percent of the unit's snaps. 

    With Drew Brees now gone, the Saints will presumably ask even more of Davenport as a rebuild starts. To make matters worse, elite defenders like Derwin James and Jaire Alexander came off the board just a few picks later. 

New York Giants: Drafting Saquon Barkley

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    Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press

    Yes, more running back talk. 

    The New York Giants used the second overall pick on the position in 2018 with Penn State's Saquon Barkley. He's started as advertised, winning Offensive Rookie of the Year honors with 1,307 yards and 11 touchdowns on 5.0 yards per carry. He also caught 91 passes for 721 yards and scored four times. 

    The Giants won five games that year. 

    Barkley regressed a bit in 2019 while missing three games, going for 1,003 yards and six scores on a 4.6 average, plus 52 catches. The Giants went 4-12. They then went 6-10 while Barkley missed the majority of 2020 with a knee injury. 

    Point being, Barkley is fun to watch and great at what he does; it just doesn't move the needle all that much and the great injury risk to the position became a factor quickly. The team needed a different sort of impact for the rebuild with such a prized asset, whether it was a different prospect or trading it for multiple picks. 

    Now, instead of contending, the Giants will stare a costly long-term extension for Barkley right in the face soon. 

New York Jets: Hiring Adam Gase in 2019

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    Charles Krupa/Associated Press

    Adam Gase was an extremely odd hiring for the New York Jets from the jump. 

    Gase, a former offensive coordinator, got the Jets job in 2019 after three seasons in Miami where he slapped together a 23-25 record. There, he had an anomaly of a debut at 10-6, then regressed to 6-10 and 7-9. 

    There wasn't a ton to suggest Gase had the gas to fuel such a dramatic rebuild as the one in New York, and the Jets had the firsthand experience by playing his teams twice a year in the AFC East. 

    As such, Gase lasted just two seasons in New York, struggling to develop 2018 No. 3 overall draft pick Sam Darnold and had odd clashes with big names like Le'Veon Bell and Jamal Adams. The Jets went 7-9 in his first year, an OK improvement from 4-12 the year prior. They regressed to 2-14 last year—with the kicker being those two wins came in late December, taking the Jets out of the race for the No. 1 pick and Trevor Lawrence. 

    The 13-game losing streak was a franchise record, and the overall record was the worst mark for the team since 1996. But everything pales in comparison to throwing away the first pick. It all works to highlight what an odd hiring it was in the first place. 

Philadelphia Eagles: Drafting Derek Barnett in 2017

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    David Richard/Associated Press

    Our five-year restriction means no longer pinging the Philadelphia Eagles for the Chip Kelly debacle. 

    On a much less dramatic front, investing the 14th pick in Derek Barnett in 2017 sticks out as an issue in hindsight. 

    Over four seasons, Barnett has tallied just 19.5 sacks in 48 games, earning a 67.9 PFF grade last year, a career high by a smudge. He's played more than 50 percent of his defense's snaps just once over those four years. 

    To be totally fair to the Eagles, that year's list of first-round edge-rushers hasn't been the strongest, and Barnett is still on the younger side (25) and could blossom. But so far, whiffing on a top-15 pick stands out. 

Pittsburgh Steelers: Drafting Artie Burns 25th Overall in 2016

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    James Kenney/Associated Press

    The Pittsburgh Steelers didn't take long to acknowledge the Artie Burns mistake, declining the fifth-year option on the 25th overall pick in 2016 draft before letting him walk this past offseason. 

    Burns got himself removed from the starting lineup before his tenure even ended because he never managed to adapt to the pro game well enough, never mind come close to the expectations of his draft slot. 

    In fact, Burns' playing time went from 99 percent of the snaps down to 30, then just 6 percent over his final two seasons. Over that 36 percent of playing time, he allowed six touchdowns on 29 targets. 

    To make it sting all the worse, Burns was the first opening-round corner selected by the Steelers in two decades. That's not all—William Jackson III came off the board one pick before him and Xavien Howard was the next corner drafted after him. 

San Francisco 49ers: The 2017 Draft's 1st Round

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    Josie Lepe/Associated Press

    It's really hard to go any other way for the San Francisco 49ers. 

    While the team's trip to the 2017 draft would produce a guy by the name of George Kittle in the fifth round, the opening round was a disaster. 

    San Francisco used the third overall pick on Stanford defensive lineman Solomon Thomas, who managed six sacks in 48 games and managed to squeak above a 60.0 season-long PFF grade just once before going to Las Vegas.

    The 49ers also used the 31st pick in the first round on Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster. He played in just 16 games for the team over two years, battling injuries before getting cut after he was arrested on domestic violence charges twice in 2018. All charges were eventually dismissed, but it was clearly a troubling series of events for a player who entered the league with concerns about his off-field decision-making.

Seattle Seahawks: The 1st Round

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    Ted S. Warren/Associated Press

    Broad in scope, but not unfair. 

    There might not be a worse-drafting team than the Seattle Seahawks over the last five years. Onlookers can point to anomalies like D.K. Metcalf and seventh-round success story Chris Carson (at running back, no less). But the first-round looks like this: 

    • 2016: OT Germain Ifedi
    • 2018: RB Rashaad Penny
    • 2019: DE L.J. Collier
    • 2020: LB Jordyn Brooks

    Ifedi lasted just four seasons, never grading above a 56.5 at PFF. Penny has carried the ball just 161 times. Collier has played just 712 snaps with three sacks. Brooks, another gamble, played just 367 snaps as a rookie and earned a 47.6 PFF grade. 

    All this while Russell Wilson runs for his life behind a bad offensive line and the team scrambles for pass-rushing help. 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: The 2016 Draft

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    Mark Zaleski/Associated Press

    The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have since righted the wrongs of the 2016 draft with some strong classes. 

    But that doesn't make the 2016 draft any less wince-worthy. 

    Tampa Bay made Vernon Hargreaves III out of Florida the 11th overall pick, and he lasted just three-and-a-half seasons before the team pulled the plug. It then used the 39th pick on Eastern Kentucky's Noah Spence, who lasted just three seasons while hardly playing after his rookie campaign. 

    Then, the kicker—literally. Tampa Bay traded back up into the second round to take kicker Roberto Aguayo, who infamously got cut the preseason after his rookie year that featured him making just 22 of his 31 attempts. 

Tennessee Titans: Drafting Isaiah Wilson in 2020

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    Mark Humphrey/Associated Press

    The Tennessee Titans don't do much wrong that's worth spotlighting in terms of talent evaluation and roster additions. 

    But that makes the Isaiah Wilson situation stick out even more. 

    Tennessee made Wilson the 2020 draft's 29th pick, and he's already out of the league. Huge expectations chased the Georgia product to the NFL, where he was expected to start in tandem with Taylor Lewan to form a monster front. 

    Instead, Wilson played just three snaps as a rookie and was part of a seventh-rounder swap with the Miami Dolphins early this year. Miami turned around and cut him after a series of infractions, according to NFL Network's Tom Pelissero. Adam H. Beasley of the Miami Herald reported Wilson had multiple legal issues during his rookie season. 

    The disaster of a pick left Tennessee scrambling last year when Lewan got hurt and turned a bright outlook on the edges of the offensive line into a question mark for the long term. 

Washington Football Team: Drafting Dwayne Haskins in 2019

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    Mark Tenally/Associated Press

    From the shop that brought onlookers the iffy trade up and overall tenure of Robert Griffin III is a Washington team that now authored the Dwayne Haskins saga. 

    Washington Football Team went all-in on the falling Haskins at 15th overall in 2019. Except it was all-in in appearance only, as soon-to-be-fired coach Jay Gruden didn't use him much. Haskins was eventually thrown to the wolves as a rookie, appearing in nine games and completing just 58.6 percent of his passes with seven touchdowns and interceptions. 

    As a sophomore, Haskins got in just seven games, throwing five touchdowns and seven picks. He lost his job after four games to Kyle Allen, then the returning-from-injury Alex Smith took over instead. Washington cut him before his second season concluded after he was stripped of his captaincy and fined for violating the NFL's COVID-19 protocols. 

    Washington went on to miss on Joe Burrow in 2020 by a single pick and all five first-round passers this year.