Players are aging, and teams are slowly drifting away from the opportunity to make the playoffs. The competition is getting heavier with more teams putting better players on their rosters, and releasing their old star players. The future is here, and the end of the era is coming. The face of franchises is changing with new players succeeding in the league, and old players not being able to keep up in the NFL. The new era is here, and it starts with this NFL offseason.
With an extremely disappointing NFL playoffs, fans hoped for an exciting offseason to help improve competition throughout the league. And they got exactly what they asked for.
The NFL offseason has been nothing short of exciting. With many star players landing in new cities, some of the best that will never play the game again, and players that have excelled throughout their whole career that are still free agents. We have seen both Tony Romo and Jay Cutler leave the game of football to head for the broadcasting booth. We still currently see star players such as Colin Kaepernick, Dwight Freeney, and Anquan Boldin still in free agency. It has been exciting for fans to see the way this offseason has played out, even with fans’ franchise players still not being able to find a deal.
The 2017 season is around the corner, and teams are making their final touches on the team before the preseason is here. With the way that the 2017 offseason has went so far, it looks like we are in a treat of this upcoming NFL season.
Here are The 8 NFL Teams That Fell Apart This Offseason and 7 That Are Set Up For A Breakout Season:
15 Fell Apart: Buffalo Bills
The Bills have been in a whacky situation ever since Tyrod Taylor has become their franchise quarterback. Taylor has the skill set to be the quarterback for the future, but doesn’t have the pieces around him. Needing more weapons on the outside, and some defensive help, this team could be good in the future.
This offseason, the Bills decided to part ways with Rex Ryan, and hire Sean McDermott, the defensive coordinator of the Carolina Panthers from 2012-2015. But unfortunately, this team doesn’t have the pieces. The Bills lost Stephon Gilmore in free agency to the New England Patriots. The Bills defense also lost linebacker, Zach Brown, who had four sacks and one interception during his campaign.
On offense, this team lost backup running back Mike Gillislee, also to the New England Patriots. Gillislee added eight touchdowns to a team ranked as the best rushing team in the NFL. Gillislee may be the most underrated back up running back in the league.
The Bills had some major losses, that left to go play for a divisional rival. Losing key players hurt, but losing key players to play for your rival is the worst possible outcome.
14 Breakout: Minnesota Vikings
The Minnesota Vikings began last season 5-0, as one of the NFC surprises. Unfortunately, the team fell apart and finished off the season going 8-8, finishing in 3rd place in the NFC North. The expectations for Sam Bradford were low, but Bradford proved he is a valuable starter in the NFL. He finished the season with the best completion percentage ever in an NFL season, at 71.6.
Going into this offseason, the Vikings needed to bring in some players to help Bradford. They were ranked 18th in passing and 32nd in rushing to finish the 2016 season. The Vikings added wide receiver Michael Floyd, who finished 2016 with five touchdowns. Unfortunately, Floyd is suspended for five games to start the year, but will have an immediate impact on the passing game when coming back.
After the loss of Adrian Peterson, the Vikings went out and picked up not one, but two running backs. The Vikings signed Latavius Murray, and drafted Dalvin Cook from Florida State.
A defense coming back in full form, shows signs of becoming one of the best defenses of the future. The Vikings are on their way to compete with the Green Bay Packers.
13 Fell Apart: New York Jets
Just when you think the Jets couldn’t get any worse, their roster weakened after the 2016 season. Going into the 2016 season, Jets fans had high hopes after Ryan Fitzpatrick lead the Jets to an opportunity to make the playoffs, but just fell short when losing to the Buffalo Bills on the last game of the season.
Coming off a great season, expectations were high for Fitzpatrick and the Jets. Unfortunately, neither side could live up to those expectations. Fitzpatrick threw for 17 interceptions and 12 touchdown passes, losing the starting spot. The Jets' passing and receiving game as awful in 2016, and was completely dismantled during the offseason.
Both starting wide receivers, Eric Decker and Brandon Marshall left to join new teams. With the quarterback position in limbo, it doesn’t look pretty. Watching the offseason unfold, it may seem that the Jets are purposely trying to tank in order to get the #1 overall draft pick in the 2018 NFL Draft.
The Jets may be on pace to be worse than the 2016 Cleveland Browns, but only time will tell.
12 Breakout: Jacksonville Jaguars
For once, the Jaguars have excited their fans. The Jaguars may have had the most exciting, and best NFL offseason.
When you look at the Jaguars departures, it’s almost completely inconsequential to the team. The Jaguars fired Gus Bradly, promoting Doug Marrone to the head coaching position of the team. Along with Doug Marrone being promoted, the Jaguars made Tom Coughlin the new Executive Vice President of Football Operations.
The Jaguars had gaping holes all around the team, and they still do, but they did an excellent job at filling the holes to the best of their ability, in one offseason. The Jaguars were ranked 22nd in rushing, and 28th in defense last season. Both spots were improved drastically.
On the defensive line, the Jaguars brought in former Arizona Cardinals defensive lineman, Calais Campbell. Cambell finished 2016 with eight sacks and an interception. The Jaguars also added A.J. Bouye and Barry Church.
The Jaguars capped off a great offseason by drafting Leonard Fournette and Cam Robinson. Both draft picks will help the rushing attack, and relieve some pressure off of Blake Bortles. If this defense can get going, and Bortles can play more efficient, this team could be scary to watch.
11 Fell Apart: Washington Redskins
The team may have added some pieces, but they also lost some, and seem completely lost for the future. The Redskins have the talent, but seemed to take a step back after their decisions during this offseason.
Washington lost both starting wide receivers, DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon. Both wide receivers finished their season with over 1,000 yards receiving.The Redskins added Terrelle Pryor who had a nice 2016 campaign, with 1,007 receiving yards and four touchdowns.
Another major gap for the Redskins, was the need of a running back. With Dalvin Cook still on the board, the Skins decided to pass on a running back and grabbed Jonathan Allen from Alabama. Allen will definitely help, but the Redskins need some help at the running back position to take some of the pressure off of Cousins.
Lastly, the Redskins and Kirk Cousins were not able to finalize a deal. Cousins once again will play under the franchise tag and may be playing his final year in DC.
10 Breakout: Tennessee Titans
The Titans seem to finally be getting a playoff squad together.
Following Mariota’s great 2016 campaign, the Titans added some weapons. The Titans drafted Corey Davis from Western Michigan. Davis will not perform to the ability that fans may think, but will cause a presence for receivers like Harry Douglas and Rishard Matthews. The Titans also added Eric Decker. Decker coming off a season of injuries, is due for a bounce back season now having the ball thrown from a young quarterback with a strong arm. The Titans also added what may be one of the underdogs of this NFL Draft, Taywan Taylor. Taylor was selected in the third round. He finished his final season at Western Kentucky with 1,730 receiving yards and 17 touchdown catches.
On top of all the weapons Mariota was given, this defense slightly improved. The Titans used their second first rounder to select cornerback, Adoree Jackson, from USC. Jackson shows a lot of versatility and speed to stick tightly to NFL wide receivers. The Titans also signed Logan Ryan. Ryan finished last season with two interceptions and 76 tackles.
The Titans stacked up on both offense and defense, preparing themselves for what could be a tough race in the AFC South.
9 Fell Apart: Cincinnati Bengals
The Bengals didn’t have an exciting offseason, but an offseason worth noting for the future. A team that seemed like they may be the face of the AFC North, may be falling away from chances at the division title quicker than most think.
In the first round of the draft, the Bengals selected one of the fastest players ever to compete in the NFL Combine. John Ross broke the 40-yard dash record, finishing in 4.22 seconds. Ross impressed many teams with his team, but he still is a small body. It’s going to be tough for a small guy to get these hard hits from NFL DBs. The Bengals also selected Joe Mixon, which is a risky draft pick after his incident at Oklahoma. The Bengals draft picks have potential, but are question marks for this season, and the future.
The Bengals took quite a few losses, hurting a team that is trying to compete with teams that had excellent off seasons. The Bengals lost Karlos Dansby and a handful of offensive lineman in free agency.
The Bengals are regressing in a division where the competition is getting better.
8 Breakout: New York Giants
The New York Football Giants are back, and ready to dominate the NFC East. With division rivals losing key players, the Giants keep adding. The Giants loaded up on offense, and will bring back one of the most terrifying defenses in the league.
The New York Giants bring back the defense that gave the Dallas Cowboys two losses in 2016, with some more experience. The Giants also drafted defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson, and Avery Moss. On top of a defense that was hard for teams to move the ball against, the Giants add even more weapons. The Giants also re-signed Jason Pierre-Paul to a four-year contract, helping keep this defense in rhythm for the future.
The offense was the only problem that kept these Giants out of the Super Bowl. The Giants added some weapons to help Eli Manning. The Giants signed Brandon Marshall. Marshall helps replace the departure of Victor Cruz, and add more production than Cruz did. The Giants then used their first-round pick on tight end Evan Engram. This offense is loaded with weapons.
7 Fell Apart: Arizona Cardinals
The Arizona Cardinals may be playing past their time. Star players Carson Palmer and Larry Fitzgerald, are both on their last legs. Without Palmer and Fitzgerald, it seems difficult to figure out who takes over the starting quarterback position and first string wide receiver. With age coming into play, the Cardinals did not draft or sign a replacement for either player of the future.
The team lost many key assets in the offseason. The Cardinals lost star defensive end Calais Campbell to the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Cardinals also lost linebacker, Kevin Minter, who finished the season with 3.5 sacks and a combined 81 tackles. The Cardinals also finally parted ways with Daryl Washington, who hasn’t played a snap in the NFL since 2014 due to suspensions. Lastly, the Cardinals also lost D.J. Swearinger, who had three interceptions last season.
The Cardinals had quite a few losses on defense for a team that had one the best defenses in the league just two years ago. Their window may already be closed.
6 Breakout: Houston Texans
One position away. One position away from a possible chance at the grandest stage of them all: the Super Bowl. That is all the Houston Texans need to give them a chance at glory.
The Texans have all the pieces but were missing a talented quarterback. In this year’s draft, the Texans traded up to pick their franchise quarterback, Deshaun Watson.
Watson doesn’t have the best arm, and isn’t the most accurate quarterback, but he has the leadership and will to win. With all the pieces around, it seems Watson will fit right in. Watson will start his career with a star wide receiver in DeAndre Hopkins, and have some nice complements with Will Fuller and C.J. Fiedorowicz. The Texans also drafted D’onta Foreman from the University of Texas. If Foreman can stay out of trouble and find his way on the field in September, he will be another addition to this team.
The Texans bring back one of the top ranked defenses in the NFL, losing just A.J. Bouye, but they're getting J.J. Watt back from injury. Expect this Texans team to be a true threat to the defending New England Patriots.
5 Fell Apart: Seattle Seahawks
The Seattle Seahawks have been very consistent on making the playoffs since Russell Wilson became the quarterback in 2012. The Seahawks have been good enough to constantly make the playoffs, but it seems they are becoming less and less dominant. This year seems to be another one of those years.
The Seahawks gave up 42 sacks last year, and their answer was to add two linemen through free agency, and drafted a center from LSU. The signing of Luke Joeckel was so bad that it has been known as one of the worst signings in recent history. The Seahawks are giving the former 2nd overall pick $8 million, for a player who has only started 39 games in four years due to injuries.
The Seahawks also signed Eddie Lacy. After last year’s 360-yard season, things may be spiraling downhill for the big running back.
A defense that just had a major injury to Earl Thomas, which may cause him to retire sooner than expected, just seems to age. The team may start wanting to add some younger players to re-tool, as their window seems to be closing.
4 Breakout: Oakland Raiders
The team of the past, is now becoming the team of the future. The Raiders had their first season over .500 last season since 2002. Derek Carr took the next step last year in showing he is the face of this franchise. Unfortunately, Derek Carr went down in Week 16. Carr’s season was done, and the Raiders lost in the first round of the playoffs to Houston.
With a huge team need being in the secondary, the Raiders selected Gareon Conley from Ohio State. Conley’s draft stock fell a bit when he was accused of rape. The rape allegation seems to be false, which should allow Conley to play this season.
On top of some additions to the defense, the Raiders added more pieces on offense. Marshawn Lynch came out of retirement to play in Oakland before they make their way to Las Vegas. A few years ago, Lynch was one of the best backs in the league, and if he still has it, may be one of the best again this season.
The most important part is that the Raiders have a healthy Derek Carr. Carr will have even more ambition to win a Super Bowl, coming off of a major injury that prevented him from playing in his first career playoff game.
3 Fell Apart: New Orleans Saints
It seems that this season the Saints were stuck in the past when signing free agents. A team with a loaded offense, picked up some new weapons, that may have aged too much to compete for a championship.
The highlight of the offseason was Adrian Peterson signing. The Saints desperate for a starting running back, went out and grabbed one of the best running backs in the past 10 years. Peterson had a major knee injury in 2016, which caused him to miss most of the season. For a running back that has a playing style that requires plowing through defenders, it’s tough to see that the 32-year-old will still be doing that in 2017.
The Saints took a big hit when they traded Brandin Cooks to New England. They tried their best to obtain Malcolm Butler but all the Saints were able to get was a first round pick, which they used on offensive tackle, Ryan Ramcyzk.
The Saints needed more on the defensive side, but didn't really land an impact player on that side of the ball. Relying on Drew Brees to work magic again is very unfair and will hurt them.
2 Breakout: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be the shocking team of 2017. The Buccaneers were close to have a chance at the 2016 playoffs, but fell short. A big problem for the Bucs was that Jameis Winston didn’t have enough weapons to make a run for the playoffs. They had pieces around the offense, and they had a good enough defense to make it. But Winston could not do it on their own, and the Bucs saw that, and reacted.
The Buccaneers made a splash in free agency when they signed DeSean Jackson. The addition of Jackson gives Winston another weapon, and takes some of the pressure of Mike Evans.
And they weren’t done. On draft night, the Bucs may have selected a guaranteed Pro Bowler, when they used their first pick to select tight end from Alabama, O.J. Howard. Howard can be a threat both blocking and in the passing game. This gives Winston yet another weapon on offense.
The Bucs helped build this offense to be a nightmare for defenses to try and cover. Expect the Buccaneers to be a serious competitor in the NFC South.
1 Fell Apart: Dallas Cowboys
Both Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott helped bring this team back to the playoff after going 13-3 in the regular season.
The future looked bright for the Cowboys, until the offseason came into play. Dallas lost four starters in the secondary, and two starters on the offensive line. A Cowboys team that was ranked fifth in points allowed, turns over their starting secondary positions to some new faces. The expected players to take over the positions open seems to be Byron Jones and Jeff Health or Kevin Frazier at safety, and Orlando Scandrick and Nolan Carroll at corner. These guys have some experience, but may be a bit of a downgrade compared to Morris Claiborne, Brandon Carr, Barry Church, and J.J. Wilcox.
On top of the losses in free agency, the a few Cowboy players have had quite a few problems with following the law. David Irving was suspended for four games. Randy Gregory, the former second-round pick was suspended through the 2017 season. DeMarcus Lawrence will also face a four-game suspension to begin the season.
The worst of all, star running back Ezekiel Elliott is being investigated on multiple situations including an altercation at a bar. Things don’t seem to get easy for the Cowboys as they struggle to stay out of trouble. And they may struggle to make their way back into the playoffs.
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