Every NFL Team's Most Boneheaded Decision of 2021

Brent Sobleski@@brentsobleskiNFL AnalystNovember 18, 2021

Every NFL Team's Most Boneheaded Decision of 2021

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    Inevitably, every NFL franchise will experience a moment when a decision didn't work out. 

    Too many moving parts exist for everything to go smoothly. The question is how each organization mitigates those inevitable missteps. 

    Mistakes can be found regarding coaching hirings, free-agent signings, ill-advised trades, draft selections and/or playing the wrong individual. No one is free from making some type of blunder. The question is how badly those decisions affected their respective situations. 

    Whatever the case, the following moves have been regrettable.

Arizona Cardinals: Taking LB Zaven Collins over Top CB Prospect

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    Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

    Rookie linebacker Zaven Collins could turn out to be a fine defender for the Arizona Cardinals. The issue isn't necessarily with him as a player, though he needs to be more than a sub-package defender after being selected with the 16th pick. The positional value and resulting usage are the problems. 

    For years, the Arizona Cardinals failed to find a quality bookend to cornerback Patrick Peterson. The all-time great left the team during the offseason, and the Cardinals still aren't settled at the position. Yes, the group is playing better than expected as the league's eighth-ranked pass defense. But the unit doesn't have a long-term answer at the position beyond Byron Murphy Jr. 

    Maybe the Cardinals weren't comfortable with Caleb Farley's injury history and passed on the eventual 22nd pick. That's fine. Greg Newsome II (No. 26) and Eric Stokes (No. 29) were the next two cornerbacks off the board and they've thrived as rookies. 

Atlanta Falcons: Not Investing in Long-Term Plan at QB

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    This offseason, the Atlanta Falcons hired a new general manager in Terry Fontenot and head coach in Arthur Smith. The two entered a financial mess that needed to be cleared up before the franchise could move forward.

    As a result, the team had to restructure Matt Ryan's deal this offseason, which will be difficult to move next offseason.

    Even so, an opportunity existed for the Falcons to invest in the future. Ryan turns 37 next year. Clearly, the new regime isn't married to the veteran quarterback long-term. Yet the franchise passed on Justin Fields and Mac Jones with this year's fourth overall pick, instead taking Kyle Pitts.

    To be clear, he's a wonderful young tight end and a mismatch nightmare. But the decision is only delaying the inevitable regarding the game's most important position.

Baltimore Ravens: Letting OLB Matthew Judon Leave in Free Agency

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    Most of the time, the Baltimore Ravens take a draft-and-develop approach to roster building. They try to retain who they can. 

    The decision to let Matthew Judon leave in free agency was a big mistake because the outside linebacker has been superb for the New England Patriots. His 9.5 sacks through 10 weekswhich matches a career high—are tied for fourth overall. 

    The Ravens didn't place the franchise tag on Judon, and there were conflicting reports on what his salary demands really were. But a $6.3 million salary-cap charge this fall is manageable. In fact, it's close to what the Ravens spent on Justin Houston's addition and Tyus Bowser's new deal. 

    First-round rookie Odafe Oweh has worked out well, but the Ravens could have had both him and Judon working the edge. 

Buffalo Bills: Not Starting RT Spencer Brown Sooner

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    The logic seemed sound: Cody Ford should be counted among the Buffalo Bills' starting five after being a part of the lineup for the last two seasons. Third-round pick Spencer Brown would sit and learn after not playing football during the COVID 19-adjusted campaign. 

    By Week 4, the Bills coaching staff had benched Ford and placed Brown in the starting lineup. The rookie's inclusion should have come sooner considering the impact he's had at right tackle. 

    "He's just so full of youthful vigor. Spencer Brown is gonna be a special football player," Bills head coach Sean McDermott told reporters Sunday. "... He's stepping into a pretty big position, and I've thought he's played admirably. He's got poise beyond his years as a rookie. ... But we feel very comfortable with who we have as an offensive line."

Carolina Panthers: Trading for and Extending QB Sam Darnold

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    Mark Humphrey/Associated Press

    The Carolina Panthers believed they could get the most out of Sam Darnold after the New York Jets badly mishandled the 2018 third overall draft pick's career.

    For three weeks, that happened. Then, the wheels fell off from Weeks 4 to 9 as Darnold struggled before suffering a fractured scapula. 

    Now, Cam Newton is back in Carolina, and he'll likely move forward as the starting quarterback.

    Carolina did nothing wrong with giving Darnold a second chance with the hopes he could turn his career around. But it was a mistake to rely on him as the only option, as was doubling-down on the investment by picking up Darnold's fifth-year rookie option shortly after his acquisition. 

    The team could have invested in Justin Fields or Mac Jones at No. 8 to create competition and hedge its bet. Nope. The Panthers could have also waited to see Darnold play before worrying about his long-term status. Nope.

    Now, they're stuck with a failed quarterback, who holds a guaranteed $18.9 salary next season. 

Chicago Bears: Drafting QB Justin Fields Without Plan to Help Him Succeed

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    Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

    The Chicago Bears absolutely made the right move when they traded up to the 11th pick and selected quarterback Justin Fields. 

    The transition was bungled every step of the way, though. 

    First, head coach Matt Nagy insisted Andy Dalton would be the team's starter and never backed off the statement even when Fields showed glimpses of promise. The outdated concepts of rookie quarterbacks needing to sit and learn while marginal veterans give teams a much better chance to win have been proved wrong multiple times over the last few years. 

    Second, the Bears coaching staff had no clue how to set up Fields for success. They're still struggling to find ways to take advantage of his athleticism and natural arm talent as the team sits at 3-6. Fields is the future of Bears football. Those who have handled his situation probably won't be along for the ride. 

Cincinnati Bengals: Trading Down in 2nd Round, Selecting Jackson Carman

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    Emilee Chinn/Associated Press

    The Cincinnati Bengals outsmarted themselves. 

    Even though investing in an offensive lineman with the No. 5 selection might have been prudent, receiver Ja'Marr Chase has proved he was well worth the pick as a front-runner for NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year. 

    But the Bengals got cute in the second round. Multiple offensive line options fell to them after passing on one in the opening frame. First, the organization traded down. Then it chose Jackson Carman at No. 46 instead of Samuel Cosmi, who went at No. 51.

    Cosmi has been excellent as an immediate starter at right tackle for the Washington Football Team, though he's dealing with an ankle injury. 

    Surely, an argument will be made that the Bengals needed interior help, but let's not forget that Carman is a tackle convert. Furthermore, Riley Reiff is only under a one-year deal and he could have slid inside as well. 

Cleveland Browns: Not Getting Something for OBJ Before Release

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    David Richard/Associated Press

    For whatever reason, the on-field relationship between wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and quarterback Baker Mayfield didn't work. 

    That the Cleveland Browns, and Mayfield in particular, are a more efficient offense without the superstar receiver became obvious a year ago when Beckham suffered a torn ACL in Week 7 and the unit's performance dramatically improved.

    The Browns finally gave up on Beckham's talent two weeks ago. 

    But the signs were present that they should've done something much earlier and gotten something in return instead of having to release him outright. Instead of trading him this offseason and addressing the position at the time or even taking anything in return at Nov. 2's trade deadline, general manager Andrew Berry couldn't swing a deal, while the team had to eat the majority of his 2021 base salary. 

    Now, Cleveland will be forced to look for wide receiver help next offseason.

Dallas Cowboys: Not Re-Signing Chidobe Awuzie

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    The Dallas Cowboys are playing well at pretty much every level, and the organization's overall roster decisions have primarily gone in its favor this season. 

    The team could have hung on to Chidobe Awuzie, though. The cornerback signed a three-year, $21.75 million contract with the Cincinnati Bengals, and he's played well in eight starts. 

    Obviously, the Cowboys have a budding star in Trevon Diggs at one outside corner. Anthony Brown has been solid on the other side. Still, the idea of letting go of a quality starter at a premium position where a team can't have enough good players might prove problematic down the road.

    Financially, Dallas could have swung Awuzie's retention by structuring his current deal a little differently, as the Cowboys have some financial wiggle room ($4.6 million). Three reliable outside corners is certainly a luxury most teams don't have. 

Denver Broncos: Moving Forward with Teddy Bridgewater as QB1

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    The Denver Broncos went with the safe choice instead of making a significant investment at quarterback. 

    Teddy Bridgewater is the type of signal-caller former defensive coordinators, such as head coach Vic Fangio, love. He's smart and efficient. For the most part, he won't take any unnecessary risks. 

    Conversely, Bridgewater lacks the qualities to lead a high-powered offense. 

    The Broncos could have worked with Bridgewater and invested in the position's future since the organization seemingly gave up on Drew Lock some time ago. The opportunity to do both fell into the franchise's lap, but Denver chose cornerback Patrick Surtain II instead of Justin Fields or Mac Jones with this year's ninth draft pick. 

Detroit Lions: Accepting Jared Goff as Part of Matthew Stafford Trade

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    The Detroit Lions knew it was time to end their relationship with long-time starting quarterback Matthew Stafford. He wanted out, and the organization needed a fresh start under incoming general manager Brad Holmes and head coach Dan Campbell. 

    Everyone else knew what the situation would be in Detroit this year. The Lions featured the league's worst roster and needed a strip-it-to-the-studs rebuild. Unfortunately, Holmes made the wrong decision when he believed enough in Jared Goff to make him part of the Stafford trade with the Rams. 

    "I never viewed [Goff] as a bridge option," Holmes said in June, per Tim Twentyman of the Lions' official site.

    Therein lies the mistake. Goff had one year to prove himself. He hasn't. Meanwhile, the team could have done more to address quarterback by selecting one with this year's seventh overall pick.

    Goff's whopping eight touchdown passes are tied with or better than only four other starting QBs who've played in nine games this season (Trevor Lawrence, Daniel Jones, Sam Darnold and Justin Fields). His yards per attempt are the lowest since his rookie season, and his yards per completion are lower than in his rookie season. Defenses don't respect him as a threat. 

    Detroit hasn't won a game, and the Lions are staring at next year's No. 1 overall pick in a class that features a weak crop of incoming quarterback prospects.

Green Bay Packers: Playing Chicken with QB Aaron Rodgers All Offseason

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    The Green Bay Packers are stuck in a lame-duck relationship. 

    But it didn't have to be this way with Aaron Rodgers. The organization could have treated him like other Hall of Fame quarterbacks and provided him with the courtesy to discuss certain moves and listen to whatever insight he could provide. 

    Instead, the team invested a first-round pick in Jordan Love in 2020 and remained committed to the succession plan.

    The Packers could have righted the course by fully committing to Rodgers once again, giving him a big extension and doing whatever was necessary to make him happy. 

    This alternate reality is nice to think about, but the Packers didn't acquiesce until they realized the 37-year-old veteran was serious about holding out and not returning until they agreed to certain conditions, such as a reworked deal and adding wide receiver Randall Cobb

    As Green Bay continues to win games with Rodgers at the helm, the season is bittersweet, knowing it's most likely the quarterback's last with the team. 

Houston Texans: Fielding One of NFL's Oldest Rosters During Rebuilding Process

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    The Houston Texans approached their rebuild in a backward manner. 

    The team features 11 players who are 29 or older. It entered the season as the league's fourth-oldest team, according to Over The Cap's Jason Fitzgerald

    Typically, rebuilds are accompanied by youth movements. The point of the approach is to either find those who can contribute to a burgeoning core or be attractive to other organizations in an attempt to acquire future assets. 

    The Texans haven't been able to build much of a war chest, and they'll go into the next offseason with the need to rid themselves of multiple veterans who will get in the way of what the franchise should be trying to accomplish. 

    A Deshaun Watson trade would help, but the far more important legal process must play out, as the quarterback faces 22 civil lawsuits from women who accused him of sexual assault or misconduct and 10 criminal complaints, including two from women who haven't filed lawsuits.

Indianapolis Colts: Missing Opportunity to Trade RB Marlon Mack

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    Marlon Mack requested a trade after Week 3 when the Indianapolis Colts coaching staff made him a healthy scratch, per NFL Network's Tom Pelissero

    Jonathan Taylor is the Colts' featured back and one of the NFL's top rushers. He's tied with the injured Derrick Henry (foot) for the league lead with 937 rushing yards. Nyheim Hines serves as the complementary back and displays excellent quickness as a runner and receiver. 

    With those two taking the bulk of the reps, Marlon Mack became the odd man out and has only 28 carries in six appearances. A swap seemed logical, especially since suitors inquired about his services prior to the trade deadline, per CBS Sports' Josina Anderson.

    Mack has been on the team's inactive list in each of the last two contests. Why exactly didn't the Colts' front office flip him to another organization? Depth is nice, but Mack isn't doing much of anything.

Jacksonville Jaguars: Hiring Head Coach Urban Meyer

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    Urban Meyer wasn't ready for the NFL, which quickly became evident. 

    Everything started with his hiring of former Iowa strength coach Chris Doyle, who was forced to leave the Hawkeyes program after allegations of racism and bullying surfaced. Still, Meyer defended the hire before backlash caused Doyle to resign

    The NFL fined Meyer and the Jacksonville Jaguars $300,000 combined for violations during his first organized team activities, per ESPN's Adam Schefter. In addition, the coach's eyes were opened early in the pro process, as he told Denver Broncos' coach Vic Fangio that NFL teams are "like facing Alabama every week." 

    The coach amazingly didn't fly home with his team after a Thursday night loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, and an unflattering video surfaced at a bar in Columbus. 

    Sure, the Jaguars have won two of their last four games. But questions remain about whether he is the right person to lead the franchise. 

Kansas City Chiefs: Not Signing Melvin Ingram III in Free Agency

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    The Kansas City Chiefs acquired Melvin Ingram III just before this year's trade deadline passed, but he should have been a member of the team much sooner. 

    Ingram made a free-agent visit to Kansas City in March, but the meeting ended without a deal, per NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. The edge-defender signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers later in the offseason. 

    In Pittsburgh, Ingram saw his role steadily diminish as the season went on and asked to be moved, ultimately getting his wish. None of this should have happened, though, because the Chiefs needed defensive help from the start.

    Kansas City lacked an edge rush even then. Frank Clark has been a disappointment. Chris Jones is better suited to play along the interior. Ingram could have stepped in immediately and helped. He already has—but it's a half a season after the fact. 

Las Vegas Raiders: Projecting Alex Leatherwood as 1st-Round RT

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    The Las Vegas Raiders haven't had a good track record with first-round picks since Mike Mayock took over as the organization's general manager in 2019. 

    Defensive end Clelin Ferrell has been a top-five bust. Safety Johnathan Abram can't cover. Cornerback Damon Arnette is no longer with the team. And wide receiver Henry Ruggs III was released after being arrested and charged with DUI resulting in death following his involvement in a car crash that killed 23-year-old Tina Tintor and her dog.

    Running back Josh Jacobs is the only hit among those five first-round selections. Offensive lineman Alex Leatherwood could be as well, but not at the position the Raiders projected the reigning Outland Trophy winner to play. 

    Las Vegas overdrafted the blocker at No. 17 with the intention of starting him at right tackle. Leatherwood never started at right tackle during his collegiate career, and his lack of comfort at the position was obvious. He's since become a fixture at right guard—where he began his career in the Alabama Crimson Tide lineup—and played better. 

    Clearly, a misevaluation occurred. 

Los Angeles Chargers: Releasing CB Casey Hayward Jr.

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    Steve Luciano/Associated Press

    The Los Angeles Chargers already feature a talented secondary. The group could have been even better if the organization retained cornerback Casey Hayward Jr. 

    "While the decision to add Casey to the team was obviously one of the best free-agent signings we have ever made, this roster-related decision is one of the most difficult," general manager Tom Telesco said in a statement upon Hayward's release. "... Casey is the consummate professional and a shining example for everyone who aspires to play in the NFL."

    The move was purely to clear $9.75 million in salary-cap space. Coincidentally, the Chargers still have over $11 million in available space even after signing free agents Corey Linsley, Matt Feiler, Oday Aboushi, Jared Cook and others. What is Hayward's cap hit with the rival Las Vegas Raiders? $2.5 million. 

    The Chargers should have reworked Hayward's deal instead of just tossing him to the side.

Los Angeles Rams: Signing WR DeSean Jackson

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    Jae C. Hong/Associated Press

    The Los Angeles Rams have been all about big-name acquisitions this year. 

    The moves started with quarterback Matthew Stafford. As of late, the additions of Von Miller and Odell Beckham Jr. solidified the organization's all-or-nothing approach to this season. 

    DeSean Jackson has quickly become the forgotten man in this discussion because he didn't work out in the team's favor. The vertical threat signed a one-year deal with a $2.75 million base salary to replace Josh Reynolds in the Rams' three-receiver sets. 

    Jackson never clicked within the offense and managed a meager eight catches in seven games before being released. The 34-year-old signed with the Las Vegas Raiders six days after his release, while the Rams went back to the well by adding Beckham to bolster the wide receiver corps. 

    The Rams may be better off now than at the start of the season, but they lucked into their current situation with OBJ's unexpected release. 

Miami Dolphins: Trading Up for Jaylen Waddle

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    Jaylen Waddle has the potential to be a very good wide receiver at the NFL level. He already leads the Miami Dolphins with 60 receptions for 557 yards and three touchdowns. Unfortunately, the organization placed him in an almost impossible situation. 

    Not only did Miami choose Waddle over his more highly decorated collegiate teammate DeVonta Smith, but it also traded a 2022 first-round pick to move up and acquire him with the sixth overall selection. The Philadelphia Eagles then moved up two spots from Miami's previous slot and chose Smith at No. 10.

    Smith has more receiving yards (603) and one more touchdown so far. Plus, he's the higher-graded of the two rookie wide receivers, per Pro Football Focus

    Waddle won't just be compared to Smith for years. He'll also be compared to the top-10 pick Miami is set to hand Philadelphia as part of that deal.     

Minnesota Vikings: Not Trading Up for QB Justin Fields

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    The Minnesota Vikings wanted to draft quarterback Justin Fields but didn't get a deal done during the first round. 

    According to Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio, Vikings general manager Rick Spielman attempted to trade up six picks into the eighth slot, with the intention of selecting the Ohio State product. A finalized deal between Minnesota and the Carolina Panthers never materialized. 

    Interestingly, Fields slid to the 11th overall pick, and the NFC North-rival Bears traded up to acquire his services. Minnesota might have had the same opportunity and still didn't pull the trigger. 

    Starter Kirk Cousins, 33, has one more year remaining on his deal, and it's fully guaranteed. But the Vikings wanted to prepare for the future with an athletic and talented signal-caller who would have fit in nicely with the team's offense.

    They have no set future for the quarterback position in a year where the QB draft crop doesn't even have a top-20 prospect, per B/R's NFL Draft Scouting Department

    Instead, they'll face Fields twice a year for the foreseeable future.

New England Patriots: Not Extending CB J.C. Jackson

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    John Bazemore/Associated Press

    The goal for NFL organizations in most contract negotiations is to get to the table early to obtain more favorable terms. 

    The New England Patriots didn't do so with J.C. Jackson, who is set to be a free agent after this season, and the cornerback's value has continued to rise thanks to standout play. 

    The 26-year-old Jackson should be viewed as the top available corner going into next year's free agency. Last season, he finished second in the league with nine interceptions. He's tied for second this year with five. He's also leading the league with 14 passes defended.

    Jackson's ball skills are second to none. Since entering the NFL as an undrafted free agent in 2018, he has snagged 22 interceptions and defended 44 passes.

    The price of his next contract could rival the league's highest-paid cornerbacks.     

New Orleans Saints: Not Handling Michael Thomas' Situation Better

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    The New Orleans Saints and wide receiver Michael Thomas haven't been on the best of terms for some time.

    Thomas played through significant injuries that required surgery during the 2020 campaign in an attempt to capitalize on Drew Brees' final season with the franchise, per ESPN's Adam Schefter

    The record-setting wide receiver didn't immediately get surgery after an ankle injury, and some within the organization openly questioned the decision. NOLA.com's Jeff Duncan reported Aug. 7 that Thomas ignored calls from the training staff and coaches for months after the conclusion of last season. 

    Two days after Duncan's report, Thomas tweeted: "They tried to damage your reputation. You saved theirs by not telling your side of the story.

    The wide receiver had ankle surgery in June. He and head coach Sean Payton reportedly smoothed things over before the start of the regular season. Unfortunately, the 2019 Offensive Player of the Year experienced a setback during his recovery and was placed on season-ending injured reserve. 

    At this point, the relationship could be damaged beyond the repair. New Orleans can save $15.8 million by releasing or trading Thomas after June 1.     

New York Giants: Not Trading TE Evan Engram

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    The Nov. 2 trade deadline came and went, and tight end Evan Engram is still a member of the New York Giants despite a "genuine affinity leaguewide for his skill set despite the lack of elite production," per ESPN's Jeremy Fowler.

    General manager Dave Gettleman should have gotten some type of return for a player on the final year of his rookie deal. 

    When the Giants drafted Engram with the 23rd overall pick in 2017, he looked like the next in a new type of tight end with elite athleticism and significant mismatch potential. Engram has been good at times and even earned a Pro Bowl bid in 2020. Yet he disappears for stretches and proved to be far too inconsistent and injury-prone. 

    The 6'3", 240-pound Engram isn't expected to be back with the Giants next season, and getting something for him at the trade deadline would have been the smart move.    

New York Jets: Investing Little in Cornerbacks

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    Frank Franklin II/Associated Press

    The New York Jets' secondary doesn't exactly feature a who's who at cornerback. Instead, most would ask the question "Who?" when trying to name any of the team's corners. 

    The group is young with some potential. But the unit is counted among the league's least desirable. 

    Bryce Hall, Michael Carter II, Brandin Echols and Javelin Guidry are the Jets' top four corners. New York ranks 31st in pass defense (283.2 yards allowed per game). 

    The Jets concentrated on building out their defensive front this offseason and didn't do enough for the back end. Carter and Echols are fifth- and sixth-round rookies, respectively. None of the four mentioned heard his name called before the fifth frame. 

    Maybe a free-agent investment or an earlier draft pick could have helped. The Jets basically ignored a premium position. 

Philadelphia Eagles: Signing DE Ryan Kerrigan

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    Brian Westerholt/Associated Press

    Sometimes, an organization courts a player it long appreciated, acquires his services and doesn't get the same caliber of performance from his previous seasons. 

    Case in point, the Philadelphia Eagles signed former Washington standout Ryan Kerrigan to join their defensive front. In 10 seasons in the nation's capital, Kerrigan registered 95.5 sacks and went to four Pro Bowls.

    The 33-year-old defender has been a non-factor after switching division rivals, and his usage continues to decrease on an almost weekly basis. He has one tackle this season.

    The Eagles signed the veteran to a one-year, $2.5 million deal. Even at that number, Philadelphia overpaid based on Kerrigan's actual production. He's nothing more than a body in the team's defensive line rotation, and he shouldn't take any reps away from Josh Sweat, Derek Barnett or even Tarron Jackson. 

    Time catches up to all players, which it's seemingly done to the 2011 first-round pick.  

Pittsburgh Steelers: Passing on Creed Humphrey for Kendrick Green

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    Keith Srakocic/Associated Press

    The Pittsburgh Steelers have a long and glorious tradition at center. Kendrick Green is now following in the footsteps of players like Ray Mansfield, Mike Webster, Dermontti Dawson, Jeff Hartings and Maurkice Pouncey. 

    Pouncey retired after the 2020 campaign, which tasked the organization with replacing a nine-time Pro Bowl selection. Pittsburgh waited until the third round to do so with Green, who is a guard convert. 

    The organization had an opportunity to select Creed Humphrey in the second round. In doing so, tight end Pat Freiermuth wouldn't be on the roster. But the offensive line was clearly a bigger need coming into this season—the run-blocking unit ranked 31st in 2020, according to Pro Football Focus—and remains so. 

    Humphrey is the league's highest-graded rookie at any position at PFF and its best center. Green has been fine, but he's clearly not in the same tier.

San Francisco 49ers: Drafting Trey Lance over Mac Jones

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    Ralph Freso/Associated Press

    Jimmy Garoppolo's continued presence as the starting quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers coupled with Mac Jones' ascension as the clear-cut top rookie signal-caller has turned up the heat on general manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan as Trey Lance continues to wait his turn. 

    The selection of Lance made sense. It still does. His athleticism will help expand Shanahan's offensive scheme and make it harder to defend. But he's the only one of five first-round rookie quarterbacks who's not a full-time starter (sans Zach Wilson's sprained right knee). 

    Garoppolo is a solid starting option, and he's not performing poorly. But the 49ers traded up to select Lance with the third overall pick for a reason. Yet he's not playing. Jones, on the other hand, is helping lead the Patriots to a possible playoff berth.

    Jones has more passing yards and the same number of passing touchdowns as Garoppolo and Lance combined. The notion that he could've been the present and the future of the franchise all in one, starting this year, is hard to discount. 

    Considering how the Alabama product was immediately linked to Shanahan after San Francisco traded up, his performance will be forever linked to Lance.   

Seattle Seahawks: Not Making a Change Defensively

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    Elaine Thompson/Associated Press

    The Seattle Seahawks fielded a historically bad defense throughout the first half of the 2020 campaign. But the unit's efforts showed significant improvement down the stretch. 

    Head coach Pete Carroll should have asked himself whether the first- or second-half performance better represented where the team stood. Instead, Carroll made changes to his offensive staff, and Ken Norton Jr. remained the defensive coordinator. 

    Now 10 weeks into the 2021 campaign, the Seahawks can be found near the bottom of the league in total defense. The 31st-ranked unit is surrendering 400.6 yards per game. For comparison, Seattle allowed an average of 380.6 yards per game in 2020. 

    The Carroll-led Seahawks built their reputation on stingy defensive play. In an NFC West division that features Kyler Murray, Matthew Stafford and Trey Lance (eventually), the head coach should have been more proactive when addressing the situation.       

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Passing on Edge Azeez Ojulari for Joe Tryon-Shoyinka

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    Mark LoMoglio/Associated Press

    When you're the reigning Super Bowl winner and return every single starter from that championship run, any moves considered missteps are nitpicky. 

    The Tampa Bay Buccaneers did exactly what they should have done this offseason by keeping the majority of their roster intact while preparing for a second consecutive run at the Lombardi Trophy. As such, nothing of significance stands out regarding this year's organizational decisions. 

    However, the first-round choice of Joe Tryon-Shoyinka over Azeez Ojulari can be questioned. Tryon-Shoyinka is a rotational piece alongside Shaquil Barrett and Jason Pierre-Paul. Eventually, he'll become a bigger part of the defense. At this point, he's definitely flashed.

    But Ojulari leads full-time rookie edge defenders with 5.5 sacks (linebacker Micah Parsons is the overall leader with six). Also, Ojulari is a year younger than the 22-year-old Tryon-Shoyinka.   

Tennessee Titans: Sinking Another 1st-Round Pick in Risky Prospect

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    Mark LoMoglio/Associated Press

    The Tennessee Titans like to take risks with their first-round picks. 

    They did so with Jeffrey Simmons in 2019 after the defensive lineman suffered a torn left ACL during predraft training. Simmons has gone on to become one of the league's best defenders. 

    Tennessee sunk the 29th overall pick in right tackle Isaiah Wilson a year later. Wilson lacked professionalism, work ethic and drive. The organization traded him to the Dolphins less than a year later. 

    After the Wilson debacle, the Titans should have been the last franchise to take a chance on Virginia Tech cornerback Caleb Farley and his extensive injury history. During Farley's collegiate career, he suffered a torn ACL and needed two back surgeries before being drafted. 

    Unfortunately, Farley suffered a torn ACL against the Bills last month, and he's now on season-ending injured reserve. Sometimes, the upside isn't worth the risk. 

Washington Football Team: Not Making a Move for One of Top QB Prospects

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    Michael Dwyer/Associated Press

    As the initial 10 picks of the 2021 NFL draft came off the board, two quarterbacks who were projected as first-round talents—Ohio State's Justin Fields and Alabama's Mac Jones—remained available. 

    The Chicago Bears jumped from the 20th overall pick to the 11th and snagged Fields. The New England Patriots stood, well, pat and landed Jones in the 15th hole. 

    The Washington Football Team, meanwhile, missed on both because it wasn't aggressive despite an obvious need under center. Head coach Ron Rivera said during an interview on NFL Network's Good Morning Football that the organization did consider trading up but decided to solidify other areas. 

    What? Quarterback always comes first.

    Ryan Fitzpatrick and Taylor Heinicke aren't bad players but they're not the future of the organization. The team should have made the move, especially knowing the Bears leapfrogged ahead of Washington to get their guy. 

                         

    Salary-cap info via Spotrac unless otherwise noted.   

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