Some sports fans out there see Memorial Day weekend as the time of the year when the National Hockey League and National Basketball Association seasons begin to come to an end, and also when the good part of the Major League Baseball campaign gets underway. For those of us out there who love the National Football League, however, the end of May means we are only a few months away from football being back on television. Now that the majority of high-name free agents have been signed by clubs and the 2017 NFL Draft is well behind us, we can begin to evaluate roster decisions and transactions made by teams in the months following the New England Patriots defeating the Atlanta Falcons to win Super Bowl XL.
Every NFL franchise – yes, even the Patriots – will get things wrong over the course of an offseason, and there will be teams filled with certain levels of regret come the holiday season. While the perception exists we cannot truly grade any team's draft class until years down the road, we are able to make educated guesses about offseason moves that will leave certain executives and coaching staffs questioning themselves before the start of Week 17. Several would-be championship contenders made some curious decisions during the spring. Will any, or even all, of those teams fail to achieve the goal of winning the Super Bowl next February because of those moves? Which of the teams spotlighted in this piece will want a complete re-do of the offseason once January 2018 begins?
15 15. San Francisco 49ers: Giving Brian Hoyer the Keys to the Offense
Some may say the San Francisco 49ers know exactly what they're doing in making journeyman quarterback Brian Hoyer the starter for a team that's likely to lose more games than it will win later this year. That's a risky decision to make in this “what have you done for me, lately?” business.
14 14. Carolina Panthers: Paying Matt Kalil
Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton will be hoping we're wrong about this one. Offensive tackle Matt Kalil failed to impress during the past several seasons, and he missed the majority of the 2016 campaign because of a hip injury. Carolina must've seen something the club liked in film sessions, though, as the Panthers gave him a five-year contract that could be worth over $50 million.
13 13. Kansas City Chiefs: Drafting Patrick Mahomes II
The Kansas City Chiefs acquiring a young quarterback to sit behind Alex Smith would've been fine, but the Chiefs didn't need to trade up and mortgage multiple draft picks to do so just for Patrick Mahomes II. Whatever you think of Mahomes, Smith is only 33 years old, and he has played well throughout the majority of his time with the Chiefs.
12 12. New Orleans Saints: Trading Brandin Cooks
We offer the following warning for all NFL teams out there: If the New England Patriots call you up about trading for one of your wide receivers, they probably aren't doing you a favor or trying to be nice. Drew Brees turned 38 years old this past January, meaning every season he is still able to take the field is a blessing.
11 11. Pittsburgh Steelers: Drafting T.J. Watt
This has little do to with T.J. Watt, a linebacker who may prove himself to be known for something other than being the brother of superstar J.J. Watt. The offense of the Pittsburgh Steelers could've used a tight end ready to contribute starting this fall, and three players at the position were drafted before the Steelers took Watt late in the first round.
10 10. Los Angeles Chargers: Paying Russell Okung
According to Spotrac, the Los Angeles Chargers have $25 million in dead cap space tied up on offensive tackle Russell Okung after signing him during the offseason. That value goes down, slightly, to $19.5 million for the 2018 campaign. Giving Okung such a deal would've made sense in March 2013, but that was four years ago.
9 9. Dallas Cowboys: Not Filling Secondary Holes
Don't look now, but the Cowboys got worse, not better, following the team's outstanding 2016 season. Morris Claiborne, a Dallas draft bust, will look to resurrect his career with the New York Jets. Brandon Carr has moved on to the Baltimore Ravens. J.J. Wilcox signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Last but not least, Barry Church joined the Jacksonville Jaguars.
8 8. Denver Broncos: Not Trading For or Signing a Veteran Quarterback
Who, exactly, is going to start at quarterback for the Denver Broncos later this year? The fact that we are asking this question less than a week before the unofficial start of the summer says plenty about the signal-callers on the team's roster. Adding Tony Romo, either via free agency or a trade depending on Romo's situation, seemed the logical move for a Denver club in need of a proven product at the position for at least one more year, but the Broncos decided to not pull the trigger on that transaction.
7 7. Chicago Bears: Quarterbacks
The Chicago Bears needed to find a replacement for Jay Cutler, which is why it made all kinds of sense when the team awarded free agent Mike Glennon with a contract and an opportunity to start later this year. Then, for reasons that go beyond logic, the Bears traded up on the first night of the draft to select Mitchell Trubisky.
6 6. Cleveland Browns: Letting Terrelle Pryor Go
Yes, the Cleveland Browns had a horrendous and historically-bad 2016 campaign, during which the team nearly went 0-16, but Cleveland has, truth be told, made several positive moves during the offseason. Nevertheless, allowing quarterback-turned-wide receiver Terrelle Pryor to leave via free agency and eventually sign with the Washington Redskins made no sense.
5 5. Cincinnati Bengals: Offensive Line
Here's an interesting thought we didn't think we'd have at the start of 2017: It's possible the Cincinnati Bengals will be the worst team in the AFC North later this year. The Cleveland Browns (probably) won't be NFL laughingstocks forever, but the Bengals failed to fill some significant roster holes during the offseason.
4 4. New York Jets: QB?
Unless we are missing something as of the final days of May 2017, it appears people in charge of the New York Jets are going to try to sell journeyman Josh McCown as the team's starting quarterback ahead of the likes of Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberg on the depth chart.
3 3. Washington Redskins: Treatment of Kirk Cousins
Whenever a casual or diehard sports fan makes a comment about how there is no longer any loyalty in sports, he or she is probably referring to a player leaving a team in order to sign a bigger contract with a different franchise. Quarterback Kirk Cousins serves as a reminder why players should work to get whatever they can during their brief careers.
2 2. New York Giants: Trusting Ereck Flowers
The New York Giants had a solid offseason, on paper, but those running the club curiously decided they still trust Ereck Flowers will become a dependable left tackle even though he has routinely struggled during his first two seasons in the NFL. Flowers was nothing short of a liability when tasked with protecting two-time Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning, particularly during big games and the team's playoff loss to the Green Bay Packers this past January.
1 1. Indianapolis Colts: Not Protecting Andrew Luck
The Indianapolis Colts squandering the talents of Andrew Luck will be one of the biggest wastes in NFL history if the club doesn't get things right regarding the QB who has Hall-of-Fame talent. Indianapolis elected to not draft a single offensive lineman until the fourth round of the 2017 NFL Draft even though it seems obvious to national pundits Luck could use some extra protection.
Indianapolis failing to surround Luck with adequate help on offense and up front has become a weird NFL tradition, and that tradition continued this past offseason. Luck underwent shoulder surgery earlier this year to fix a problem he had dealt with since 2015. It's not an overstatement to suggest there are concerns about his ability to remain healthy playing behind his current line.
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