In the NFL teams are constantly striving to be the best. The purpose of every year is to bring home the Lombardi trophy. Sure, some teams temper expectations and understand that Rome wasn't built in a day, that their quest for the Lombardi is active but doesn't end that year. For most though success is expected quickly, and its not uncommon to go from contender to top 10 pick to contender, sometimes with entirely different rosters and coaching staffs. In short, a team is in a constant state of "rebuild," maintaining the players they've chosen well and replacing the choices they aren't happy with.
For some a "rebuild" is as minor as fixing one or two positions. For others its a complete overhaul of the players and culture.
This list contains a mix of both.
So without further ado, here are 15 NFL Teams Who Will Need To Rebuild In The Next Five Years.
15 Los Angeles Chargers
The Los Angeles Chargers have a decent team. Coming off a 5-11 season the Chargers are where they've been for most of the past 15 years, where they can either be a scrappy team that can make a wildcard and give fits to a team that is better on paper(as was the case in 2008, 2013, and 2014) or they can be an insanely frustrating team that will make you think they're AFC contenders one week and candidates for a top-5 pick the next (As was the case in 2015). The Chargers have a decent nucleus of young players with DE Joey Bosa, CBs Casey Hayward and Jason Verrett, and RB Melvin Gordon but their mediocrity in recent years has put them in an awkward position. Do you go all in on Free Agency and try to get QB Phillip Rivers (35) a ring, or do you attempt to draft well and spend less and plan long term? Because of the Chargers talent they will struggle to secure a lower risk QB plan when Rivers retires. The Chargers have won at least 4 games every season since 2000, and since Phillip Rivers was drafted in 2004 they have drafted in the top-5 just once(2016). Throw in the fact that the team just moved from its long time San Diego home and this is a team that will need to rebuild shortly. The Chargers went out and grabbed WR Mike Williams (Clemson) in the first round of the 2017 Draft. But they still need someone to throw him the ball long term.
14 Los Angeles Rams
The Rams future depends on highly touted QB Jared Goff. Goff, the first overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, can make or break this franchise. The Rams have a lot of eggs in the Jared Goff basket and because of that they don't have a first round pick in the 2017 Draft, exacerbating their situation even further. The Rams have one facet of the game locked down for the foreseeable future: Special Teams. The Rams boast a Pro Bowl Punter (Johnny Hekker) and Long Snapper (Jake McQuaide). They also have one of, if not the, best defensive lineman in the league in DT Aaron Donald. The Rams have a lot of high picks sunk into the Offense (#1 Overall QB Jared Goff, #10 Overall Todd Gurley, #2 Overall Greg Robinson, and #8 Overall Tavon Austin) but still struggle greatly on that side of the ball. If Goff turns it around and becomes the player everybody thought he was capable of being(which very well may happen) then the Rams are in good shape. If Goff continues his 2016 level of play (546.%, 1089 Yards, 5TD-7INT, 63.6RAT, 0-7 W/L) then look for the Rams to rebuild.
13 Cincinnati Bengals
The Cincinnati Bengals wrapped up their 26th season without a playoff win by finishing with a respectable 6-9-1 record. Despite the fact the Bengals went 12-4 the year before last, they are a team that will likely have to rebuild shortly. The Bengals have a very talented roster, led by Pro Bowl QB Andy Dalton, but many fans (and pundits) feel they have underachieved. Despite the fact the Bengals boast six Pro Bowlers, and many other talented players who have yet to be named to a Pro Bowl, they have gone 0-5 in the playoffs since 2011. This is part of a larger issue with head coach Marvin Lewis, who has gone 0-7 in the playoffs since becoming the head coach back in 2003. Marvin Lewis has been a successful coach, but he might better serve his team now as a General Manager. This team won't need a complete rebuild, but there are issues that are glaring right now. The Bengals did make QB Andy Dalton's life easier yesterday, taking WR John Ross (Washington) 9th overall. Green, Ross, LaFell, and Eifert make a very solid receiving core.
12 12. Arizona Cardinals
The Cardinals are one of the teams on this list who won't need to rebuild because of a lack of talent, but rather the age of the talent it has. The Cardinals have three of the best at their respective positions in QB (Carson Palmer), WR (Larry Fitzgerald) and Head Coach Bruce Arians. The issue is that they're 37, 33, and 64 respectively. The good news is the Cardinals have plenty of younger talent in CB Patrick Peterson, RB David Johnson, and CB/FS Tyrann Mathieu. An interesting wrench that has been thrown in recently is the reinstatement of MLB Daryl Washington. Washington, 30, was an excellent linebacker who was in suspension limbo for the past few years. Washington hasn't played a down since 2013, but the last time he played all 16 games (2012) he was a second team All-pro. Throw in first round pick Haason Reddick (MLB/ILB, Temple) and you have a very good line backing corps. Potentially. All of that won't change the fact that a good chunk of the top tier talent is on the wrong side of 30 (or 60).
11 New York Jets
The 2015 New York Jets tried to replicate the magic of the 2010 Jets and partially succeeded. Then the 2016 Jets tried to replicate the 2015 Jets magic and failed. The Jets are already rebuilding in a way, no longer being tied to former starting QB Ryan Fitzpatrick. Fitzpatrick was woefully inconsistent with the Jets, going from Hero to Zero often, including a terrible six interception performance against the Chiefs this past year. The Jet are also saying goodbye to long time (perhaps former) fan favorite Darrelle Revis. Revis has been criticized for effort the past few years, and getting rid of him is a huge move. Getting rid of your starting QB and a likely Hall Of Famer shows the "earn it" motto the Jets are trying to employ. Despite all that the Jets lack a QB and offensive play-makers. Defensively they have an excellent D-line and nabbed a top prospect in safety Jamal Adams (LSU) in the first round. Adams immediately makes a below average secondary better. The question is, of the two seasons Todd Bowles has coached for the Jets, which one is the anomaly?
10 Miami Dolphins
Do you believe in Ryan Tannehill? That is the question for the Dolphins right now. Tannehill had his best season in 2016, but still didn't show that he could be a dominate figure or the proper heir to Marino that the Dolphins have been looking for since 2000. Tannehill went 8-5 as a starter as the Dolphins went 10-6 overall. A large issue with the young QB was the lackluster O-line they stuck him with. Tannehill was sacked 93 times his first two years(2.9 per game). The Dolphins have fixed that issue (for the most part) now, chiefly (or Dolphinly) by signing LT Branden Albert. The problem is that while Albert is still in the state of Florida he plays for the Jaguars now. The Dolphins possess a good amount of talent, mainly WR Jarvis Landry (204 catches the past two seasons) and DT Ndamukong Suh( 6x All-Pro). As far as the draft, the team went with DE/OLB Charles Harris (Missouri) at #22 to try and fill the role that the Dolphins thought they had taken care of with Dion Jordan. This is a team that will need to adapt, but a full rebuild shouldn't be required.
9 Jacksonville Jaguars
Like their in-state counterpart, the Jaguars have a QB who is up in the air. Blake Bortles is either a mistreated franchise savior or a turnover prone franchise breaker who is wasting the talented WR corps that the Jags have. Maybe he is both. Bortles scored 37 touchdowns in 2015 and looked to be taking the next step into elite status. Though Bortles threw less interceptions in 2016 than in 2015 (18 in '15, 16 in '16) his picks seemed to come at the worst possible time. He also scored 11 fewer touchdowns in 2016. Its one thing to be a high risk/high reward QB who takes chances(Ala Favre) or to be a high turnover QB who struggles to not throw games away. The Jaguars are attempting to lift some of the pressure off Bortles by taking RB Leonard Fournette( LSU) at #4. There is a lot to like about the Jaguars (and Bortles) but there is also a lot to dislike. Head coach Doug Marrone is a wildcard. He led Buffalo to its first winning season in 10 years in 2014, but also lost his job to Rex Ryan. Look for the Jags to rebuild on the go.
8 Carolina Panthers
An unpopular entry surely, but one that I feel comfortable making(for now). The Panthers are one year removed from a Super Bowl berth, why would they possibly need to rebuild? Well, the answer is simple: Cam Newton. Newton (the NFL MVP in 2015) takes a lot of hits. In the past three years Newtons combined hits(rushing attempts+sacks) is 432. That's 9.6 hits per game. Newton is a great athlete and extremely physical, but 10 hits a game+the fact he'll be 28 when the season starts adds up to a team needing a new "superman" very shortly. Its possible that the do-it-all Christian McCaffrey (Stanford) who plays a combination of roles could be it. Defensively there is a lot to worry about, too. Linebacker Thomas Davis is 34. Fullback Mile Tolbert is gone, as is CB Josh Norman. Luke Kuechly, strongly considered one of the best defensive players in the league along with J.J. Watt and Aaron Donald, suffered his second concussion in as many seasons last year. Kuechly's health should come before his career, and in a league that has lost numerous players to "early" retirement the past few years, it wouldn't be shocking to see Kuechly (26) hang it up.
7 San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers took a huge step towards relevance in the first round. GM John Lynch wheeled and dealed his way to filling quite a few needs for the 49ers. The 49ers went BPA while also patching up some needs. For trading back a single spot the 49ers grabbed the Bears first, third, fourth and third round of 2018 picks. Then they struck gold by drafting Alabama LB Reuben Foster, a player that most thought would go between #10-#17. The 49ers grabbed him at #31. None of that changes the fact that the 49ers have seven wins in the past two years, no long-term answer at QB( yet), and NaVorro Bowman may never return to the top-5 defensive player he was. The 49ers will need to rebuild. The good news for their fans is that they already are. And they're crushing it.
6 Pittsburgh Steelers
The Steelers are a championship contender right now. But we're talking up to 5 years from now. The Steelers have slowly but surely changed from Defensive powerhouse with a good offense to offensive powerhouse with a good defense. The issue comes from the fact that the offense may no longer be a powerhouse. The Steelers offense works because it has Ben Roethlisberger, LeVeon Bell, and Antonio Brown. Brown and Bell are relatively young (they'll be 25 and 29 respectively during the 2017 season) but "Big Ben" is not. Roethlisberger is 35 and has missed 7 starts the past three seasons. During the 6 full games he has missed the Steelers have averaged 20.83PPG, which would put them at #21 compared to the rest of the NFL in 2016. Pittsburgh's defense was #10 in opponent PGG in 2016 (20.6). With neither an elite offense nor elite defense, the Steelers will certainly rebuild following Big Bens retirement, as we all know its about winning it all in "sixburgh". The Steelers spent their 2017 first round pick on defense, with them taking LB T.J. Watt (Wisconsin) with the #30 pick.
5 Green Bay Packers
Like the Steelers, the Packers are 2017 contenders. But they may not be for long. The Packers are pulled by Aaron Rodgers, that much is obvious. While there is certainly no shame in letting perhaps the best QB in the NFL be the focus point of your team, it may become an issue when that piece will be 34 during the 2017 playoffs, as Rodgers will. The Packers have two young All-Pros to turn to in LT David Bakhtiari (25) and FS Ha Ha Clinton-Dix(24). WR Randall Cobb is also on the younger side as he will turn 27 during the season. The issue is that the Packers two best offensive players, Rodgers and Jordy Nelson are 31 and 33, respectively. The Packers moved down 4 spots into the second round (#33 Overall) in exchange for the Browns fourth rounder (#108 overall). The Packers have some defensive issues, finishing #25 in opponents PPG in 2016. The Packers won't need to rebuild to be a decent team, but they will to be a contender.
4 New York Giants
The New York Giants have already begun their rebuilding. They are preparing for life after Eli as-is. Eli Manning (36) won't be around forever and there is a realistic chance that he retires following 2017. Whoever follows him and becomes the first non-Manning QB to start a game for the giants since Kurt Warner in 2004 (Yes, it really has been that long) will have plenty of help, especially with All-Pro wideout Odell Beckham, Jr. The Giants spent a lot of money to improve the section of their team that isn't named Manning/Beckham, starting with a five year $85 million contract in 2016 for DE Olivier Vernon. With an average of $17Mil/Year, Vernon is getting paid $2 million per sack with the giants on average. Vernon is an excellent player, but such a steep contract makes it nearly impossible to live up to. NFL Sack leader Vic Beasley Jr. got paid an average of $232,00/sack. To average that $/sack amount Vernon would need a whopping 732 sacks this upcoming year. On the back end of the D the Giants have one of (maybe the, depending on Earl Thomas recovery) the best safeties in football with Landon Collins. Despite the fun I've poked at the giants spending, you can't argue with the results. The Giants finished #4 in opponent PPG in 2016 (18.9) and went 11-5. The question is how do they find someone to keep the offense rolling when Manning is gone. The Giants have made a great situation for him on paper, adding First Round TE Evan Engram (Mississippi) to go along with OBJ.
3 Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs traded a lot to grab QB Patrick Mahomes II out of Texas Tech in the first round. Giving up two firsts (#27 in 2016, which turned into CB Tre'Davious White for the Bills, and their #1 in 2017) and a #3(#91 overall) this year. That might not be the best course for a team which is definitely a 2017 contender. The Chiefs boast a magnitude of talent on a defense that has 5 Pro Bowlers on it. The offense also has talent boasting 3 Pro Bowlers. The issue is that the defensive Pro Bowlers age is 29.4 on average and 2 of them (OLB Tamba Hali and MLB Derrick Johnson) will likely be gone post-2017. Another one of them, OLB Justin Houston, is one of the best defenders in football but has missed 21 games in the last 4 years, and his time to win may be now. The Chiefs are likely already in a rebuild, trying to get ready for a second, younger championship team to emerge while the current, older regime tries to win one in 2017. Its completely possible that done right, the Chiefs (and Mahomes) can be a force in the AFC for the next decade. This kind of rebuild was used by Head Coach Andy Reid with the Eagles, replacing players before its truly "required" to do so. Even so, they're going to need to "re"build the future team.
2 Chicago Bears
I won't go too far into whether I think #2 overall pick QB Mitchell Trubisky (North Carolina) was worth what the Bears gave up for him. I will say that the Bears gave up #3 Overall, #67 Overall, #111 Overall, and a third rounder next year to move up from #3 to #2. Trubisky has a lot of talent and a very high ceiling. The Bears found the guy they liked and went after him. You have to respect that. Regardless of who becomes the guy the Bears need at QB (And it very well might be QB Mike Glennon, who showed promise with the Buccaneers and signed with the Bears this offseason), the Bears will need to rebuild to put a team around him that can put him in a position to succeed. The Bears have an outstanding RT in Kyle Long and a very good LG in Josh Sitton, giving them a pretty good O-line for whoever to work with. The Bears have a solid team, but what they need are some franchise guys, and that's why the Trubisky pick makes sense. Since 2010 the Bears have had 11 players go to the Pro Bowl. 10 of them are no longer on the team. Its a slow process to build a contender, and the Bears just took what they think is their best choice.
1 New England Patriots
Yes, yes, I know. The Patriots have not posted a losing season since 2000. They have 5 Super Bowls since 2001. 7 Super Bowl appearances since 2001. They're defending champs. So how could this team need to rebuild? Because the driving force behind this dynasty is QB Tom Brady and HC Bill Belichick. Belichick is 65 years old. Tom Brady will be 40 when the 2017 season starts. Logically, it has to end. The Patriots have a guy who might be the next franchise guy, but who isn't a franchise guy with Belichick? Even without Brady, since 2008 the Patriots are 13-6. That's not to say that Brady isn't the GOAT (He might be), but it is to say that we have seen proof the Patriots can succeed without him. We have not seen the same kind of proof with "BB". And how long will QB Jimmy Garoppolo, who is going into his fourth year, wait to be the QB for the possibly Belichick-less Patriots? Every year that Brady gets closer to retirement and Garoppolo gets closer to starting is a year that the Patriots get closer to having a new coach. Where is the motivation for JG there? And Rob Gronkowski hasn't played a full 16 game season since 2011. The Patriots are contenders every year. But are the Patriots minus Brady, Minus Belichick, Minus Gronkowski every year contenders five years from now? Its tough to imagine.