Changes are made every season, sometimes for the good, and other times for the better. It may be small or minor, but every team makes a few moves. Whether it be through free agency, the draft or trades, teams make mistakes. Maybe teams acquire a player that played well somewhere and struggled on the team that acquired them. Some teams decide to play it cheap and go after a cheaper player, rather than efficiently filling a need. Many times, teams ignore a need and spend a lot of money somewhere that money doesn’t necessarily need to be spent.
No team goes a full season without making a poor judgement call. This accounts for more than just the offseason, as teams can add players to their roster mid-season as well. In 2018, we saw one of the most active trade deadlines in recent history. It was exciting, but some teams may have made a poor acquisition.
Some of these teams will be affected more than others. It all depends on how big of a mistake was made. We are going to break down the worst move each team made that affected their 2018 season, and how it may have impacted them for the future. Some may include star players, while other moves may be very minor including players that aren’t very well known. Each team made a mistake that affected their team differently, so we will find out which mistake that was. Some of these moves may end up being corrected this offseason, or may have already been corrected.
32 Arizona Cardinals - Signed Sam Bradford
At one point this season, Sam Bradford was the starting quarterback for the Cardinals. He started three games, going 0-3, with 400 passing yards, two touchdowns, and four interceptions. It was the worst Bradford has looked throughout his career, and they gave him a one-year deal worth $20 million.
The problem wasn’t the player, but the contract. There’s really no reason Bradford should’ve been paid that much. Amid the injuries and his inconsistency, Bradford really shouldn't have been signed for anything more than $10 million.
31 Atlanta Falcons - Signed Justin Bethel
Looks like the Cardinals problem became the Falcons problem. Signing Justin Bethel wasn’t a big deal, like most of the Falcons' offseason acquisitions. Where the problem really lies with Bethel, is this team dealt with a lot of injuries over the course of the season. You would expect a team like this would look in free agency and improve. Well, they didn’t. The Falcons defense likely cost them a chance at the playoffs this season, considering how bad their secondary was.
30 Baltimore Ravens - Signed DeVier Posey
It’s hard to say the Ravens had a “bad acquisition,” because of how good of an offseason they had. They went out and acquired solid wide receivers in free agency, and ultimately revamped this offense for Lamar Jackson. They could’ve done without signing DeVier Posey.
A wide receiver who hasn’t played since 2014 clearly wasn’t going to have any impact on this team. He didn’t even make it throughout the season, as he ended up in the CFL by the end of the year.
29 Buffalo Bills - Signed Vontae Davis
Unfortunately, the Bills got really unlucky this season. After one game, correction, one half, as a Buffalo Bill, Vontae Davis decided to call it quits. He retired midway through the the team's Week 2 game against the Chargers, and that was the end to his football career. Some would consider it one of the most bizarre situations they’ve ever seen. Davis has been fantastic throughout his career, and healthy would’ve been a good addition. Instead, the Bills got one 30 minutes of football out of him, before he decided he simply didn't have it anymore.
28 Carolina Panthers - Traded For Torrey Smith
Imagine trading for a wide receiver who would only catch 17 passes for 190 yards, and score two touchdowns. The positive thing about the Panthers trading for Torrey Smith is they traded Daryl Worley for him. Worley ended up with some off-field issues and was released by the Eagles. At the time though, Worley was more valuable than what they got for him, especially considering one of the Panthers' weaknesses was their wide receiving corps.
27 Chicago Bears - Signed Cody Parkey
If it wasn’t already the most obvious choice, Cody Parkey was a complete bust of a signing. The Bears were an accurate kicker away from heading to the NFC Divisional Round, but instead, were eliminated after Parkey missed a 43-yard field goal. Parkey was bad all year long, finishing with a 76.7 field goal percentage. Throughout the season, he only made one field goal over 50 yards. A year after signing Parkey, the Bears will be on the lookout for a new kicker.
26 Cincinnati Bengals - Signed Matt Barkley
Before Andy Dalton got hurt, this Bengals team had an opportunity to make the playoffs. Once he went down, Jason Driskel took over, where he struggled. So, why does that make the Matt Barkley signing so bad? Barkley was a bad signing because they handled it poorly, eventually parting ways with him.
In the one start Barkley had this season, he threw for 232 yards and two passing touchdowns, but that was as a Buffalo Bill. There weren’t many acquisitions made by the Bengals this offseason, but they butchered this one by not taking the backup quarterback position seriously.
25 Cleveland Browns - Traded For Tyrod Taylor
Looking back at it, you wonder why the Browns ever traded a third-round pick to acquire Tyrod Taylor. It took a Taylor injury to allow Baker Mayfield to start the remainder of the season. Not that Browns fans are really hitting themselves over the head with this, but they could’ve had an extra pick, and more money to spend elsewhere. From the moment he was traded to Cleveland, Taylor seemed like an unnecessary addition for the Cleveland Browns, especially once Baker Mayfield emerged sooner than the team expected.
24 Dallas Cowboys - Signed Allen Hurns
Allen Hurns came at the wrong time with the wrong role for this Cowboys offense. If they didn’t sign Hurns, chances are they probably wouldn’t have released Dez Bryant. By signing Hurns, the Cowboys front office was content with the wide receiving corps. Hurns is talented and can play all throughout the offense, but he’s definitely not a No. 1 receiver. At the time they signed him, it was ridiculous of the front office to think he would be their true no.1. To their credit, they realized their mistake, and made the move for Amari Cooper.
23 Denver Broncos - Signed Case Keenum
Everyone thought this Broncos team was a solid quarterback away from competing for a playoff spot. What do the Broncos do? Sign a quarterback. They signed Case Keenum to a two-year deal worth $36 million. There are many people to blame with this decision, and part of it is the scheme Keenum played in. There never really was a path to success for Keenum in orange. Keenum struggled in Denver, throwing 15 interceptions after doing a terrific job at not turning the football over a year prior.
22 Detroit Lions - Signed LeGarrette Blount
Teams should know by now that players that succeed with the Patriots, usually flop elsewhere. That’s why the Eagles acquired Jay Ajayi last season because LeGarrette Blount couldn't carry the load on his own. In 2018, Blount rushed for 418 yards and five touchdowns, averaging 2.7 yards per carry. He’s a solid red zone threat, but he really struggled to get it going in the ground game. Signing Blount was a mistake, considering he really struggled all season. Good thing they found themselves a starting running back in Kerryon Johnson.
21 Green Bay Packers - Byron Bell (G)
Just because Byron Bell can play all over the offensive line, doesn’t make him good. This was a player who really struggled in Dallas last season while playing alongside one of the best offensive line units in the game. Even as a backup, Bell is a risk. You don’t want to put him out there with the job of protecting your quarterback. This is especially true when your quarterback is Aaron Rodgers. Luckily, Bell is a backup, or else the Packers would really be in trouble.
20 Houston Texans - Claimed Sammie Coates
From the beginning of this season, the Texans needed to add another wide receiver with the ability to start in a pinch. Claiming Sammie Coats obviously wasn’t the answer, as he became a pretty ineffective acquisition. Coates was targeted twice all season, catching one pass for 12 yards. With receivers like Dez Bryant and Rishard Matthews available, Coates really wasn't the name Houston should've been targeting. The Texans realized it, trading for Demaryius Thomas when Will Fuller went down, but all season, this offense needed one more wide receiver.
19 Indianapolis Colts - Signed Tyrell Adams
The Colts had a terrific offseason, so their worst acquisition was something very minor. Tyrell Adams was an ineffective signing that eventually led to him being cut before the season began. As good as Darius Leonard is, it would be nice to surround him with better talent to make that unit one of the best linebacking groups in the game. Adams likely was signed for the chance to be on the practice squad, or maybe be a backup. He ended up getting cut and signed with Houston to end the season.
18 Jacksonville Jaguars - Signed Austin Seferian-Jenkins
Not that Marcedes Lewis was any better than Austin Seferian-Jenkins with the Packers, but the Jaguars did a poor job at replacing the production Lewis used to bring. Seferian Jenkins’ season ended prematurely but wasn’t even that impressive before he got hurt. Through four games, he had 11 receptions for 90 yards and a touchdown. For the type of quarterback they had, the Jaguars probably should’ve looked to the draft to find a tight end who’s a real playmaker. Instead, they got a player who barely made an impact.
17 Kansas City Chiefs - Signed Sammy Watkins
There’s really no way to justify paying Sammy Watkins $48 million over the course of the three seasons with his production. Watkins is getting paid like a No. 1 receiver, but producing like a decent No. 2 receiver. When Watkins first came into the league, he was showing flashes of a star receiver. Once 2016 hit, it went downhill from there. In the last two seasons, Watkins has played for the two best offenses in the league, finishing with less than 600 receiving yards each season, and was held to only three touchdowns this season, from a quarterback who threw 50 TD passes.
16 Los Angeles Chargers - Signed Virgil Green
If you go back to the very beginning of the offseason, the Chargers had no intentions of re-signing Antonio Gates. They decided to sign Virgil Green, and later re-signed Gates due to Hunter Henry’s injury. You would think that Green would have the better season, considering he was the focal point in free agency. Instead, Gates was the better tight end and had some solid games. Good thing the Chargers decided to end up bringing Gates back for one more season.
15 Los Angeles Rams - Traded For Marcus Peters
Marcus Peters was a much better cornerback in Kansas City than he was in Los Angeles. In Peters’s rookie season, he finished with eight interceptions, two taken back for touchdowns, and 26 pass deflections. In all three of his seasons, he was really good, but Andy Reid must’ve realized there were many flaws in his game. In 2017, we really saw Peters struggle in coverage. He creates takeaways because of how aggressive he is, but he also blows coverage quite often.
14 Miami Dolphins - Traded For Robert Quinn
In the Marcus Peters trade, the Chiefs were hoping they could get Robert Quinn in return. Good thing they didn’t. A strong end to the 2018 season makes Quinn’s statistics look much better, as he finished with a sack in each of the last four games of the season. Quinn simply isn’t as effective as he once was. The Dolphins had high expectations for their defensive line, but like Quinn, they failed to live up to them. Part of the issue was Quinn no longer lining up next to Aaron Donald, who commanded double teams.
13 Minnesota Vikings - Signing Kirk Cousins To Guaranteed Contract
The Vikings seemed to be a lock for making the playoffs and really making a run at the Super Bowl. The fact that they missed the postseason altogether really highlights that signing Kirk Cousins was a mistake. Cousins has been subpar against winning teams, which is going to be a huge problem playing in the NFC North. A lot of people put blame on the Redskins' lack of offensive talent for Cousins being inconsistent in Washington, but now, Cousins has two of the best receivers in the game. The worst part about it is Cousins’s contract is fully guaranteed for two more years.
12 New England Patriots - Signed Adrian Clayborn
Unfortunately, Adrian Clayborn didn’t have another career day with six sacks in 2018, like he did in 2017 for Atlanta. In fact, Clayborn finished this past season with only 2.5 sacks. He definitely created pressure, but really struggled to actually get to the quarterback or anyone with the football. He finished with a total of only 11 tackles. Usually, the Patriots do a good job at finding a role where veterans can thrive in. Fortunately, the Patriots always avoid overpaying for players, so this wasn't that big of an issue.
11 New Orleans Saints - Traded For Teddy Bridgewater
Imagine thinking you found the successor to Drew Brees, to find out his “successor” isn’t all that great in the same offense. Obviously, if/when Sean Payton wants to move forward with Teddy Bridgewater, he will adjust the offense to fit Bridgewater’s strengths. It wasn’t a good sign when Bridgewater started the final game of the season, where the Saints got blown out. He threw for 118 yards and one touchdown while throwing an interception. That's not the type of re-introduction Bridgewater wanted, especially when that team traded a third-round pick to acquire him.
10 New York Giants - Signed Nate Solder
One of the worst free agent signings this offseason was Nate Solder to the Giants. Solder was dominant in New England but really struggled in his first season with the Giants. Solder signed a four-year deal worth $62 million. That’s a ton of money to spend on an offensive lineman, who turned out to be a weak spot of the offensive line. Maybe it’s something to do internally with the organization, considering the Giants continue to have one of the worst offensive lines year after year.
9 New York Jets - Re-Signed Josh McCown
Was the Josh McCown signing a courtesy because of how well he played last season? From early on in the preseason, it seemed like Sam Darnold already had the starting role. McCown was probably a good mentor, but $10 million is a lot of money to pay for one. McCown did have to play in four games due to injuries, but it never seemed like he would take over again. The Jets paid the price for a solid player on a backup quarterback.
8 Oakland Raiders - Traded For Martavis Bryant
Originally, the Raiders traded a third-round pick to the Steelers for Martavis Bryant. Considering how many draft picks Jon Gruden looked to acquire, it’s surprising he made this type of move. Bryant has a lot of talent but is constantly dealing with suspensions. As good as he is, he can’t manage to stay out of trouble. Maybe Gruden thought he could change that until Bryant was suspended indefinitely mid-way through December. Not to mention, the Raiders actually released him and re-signed him at one point.
7 Philadelphia Eagles - Signed Haloti Ngata
Coming off of their Super Bowl win last offseason, the Eagles made it a priority to acquire a defensive lineman. Trading for Michael Bennett was a great decision, but signing Haloti Ngata was not. Initially, it looked like a good move because they paid next to nothing for the former star defensive tackle. It’s clear Ngata's best days are gone, as he finished the 2018 season with 17 tackles and one sack. It's very likely that Ngata simply decides to retire this offseason.
6 Pittsburgh Steelers - Signed Morgan Burnett
Since the Steelers drafted Terrell Edmunds, the Morgan Burnett move didn’t make any sense. Edmunds started the whole season at safety, while Burnett was out of position much of the season. Financially, the Steelers wasted money on a player who didn’t play as much as expected. They also misused a player, as they could’ve tried to keep them both on the field at the same time. It all ended with Burnett requesting to be released following the of the 2018 season.
5 San Francisco 49ers - Signed Jerick McKinnon
Before Jerick McKinnon signed with the 49ers, he was a backup on the Vikings. Even if Kyle Shanahan was interested, it didn’t make any sense as to why the 49ers signed McKinnon to a four-year deal worth $36.9 million. It seemed like the 49ers were bidding against themselves. What’s even worse than McKinnon’s contract is the fact he missed his entire first season with the team. The whole signing was a head-scratcher. One thing that was proven was that the 49ers have talent in the backfield behind McKinnon, bringing his value down even more.
4 Seattle Seahawks - Traded For Brett Hundley
Other teams had a lot of interest in Brett Hundley, but it came down to the Seahawks, who ended up trading for him. Why did they trade for him? Who knows. Maybe they wanted a serviceable backup for cheap, but they could’ve saved a draft pick by just signing a backup quarterback. The Seahawks also aren’t in a situation where they need to prepare for post-Russell Wilson, so it was just a weird move. It was a minor mistake, with a lot of departures this past offseason.
3 Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Signed Vinny Curry
Another team who had a desire to build up their defensive line was the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Maybe they thought too much of Vinny Curry, who has to be one of the more overrated defensive ends in the NFL. Curry really struggled this past season, finishing with 2.5 sacks, 21 total tackles, and seven pressures. If the Buccaneers could remove one of the defensive linemen from this past offseason, it would be Curry. Maybe they were intrigued because he was a part of a talented Eagles defensive line.
2 Tennessee Titans - Signed Blaine Gabbert
When you have a quarterback who has a history of getting hurt, you probably want to invest into a solid backup quarterback. Blaine Gabbert isn’t considered one of the worst backups in the league, but he definitely isn't an effective one for a QB like Mariota. The Titans front office probably didn’t expect the season to be in the hands of Gabbert.
With Marcus Mariota getting hurt late in the season, Gabbert was set to start a win-or-go-home in Week 17. Gabbert threw for 165 yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions in the loss.
1 Washington Redskins - Signed Paul Richardson
From the moment Washington signed Paul Richardson, it seemed like a bad idea. Richardson was known to be a deep threat in Seattle. The Redskins traded for Alex Smith to become the starter, who is far from a deep ball quarterback. It was a bad fit, and then Richardson dealt with injuries throughout the season. Maybe they expected Richardson to become their No. 1 receiver, but that didn’t work out. Don’t be surprised if the Redskins eventually try to turn around and trade him.