Traditional power rankings overreact to one HUGE WIN and one sad (!) loss. Rarely do they take in account the entire season. To give a more accurate representation of what’s going on, and where these teams currently stand, I will not equivocate or give into the yank of heartstrings the NFL season brings week to week.
Instead of living with such a short memory and being so myopic, here’s where all 32 teams rank after the real end of the 2020 season, along with available cap space, potential free agents, and potential roster cuts.
32.) Houston Texans—Record: 4-12. Point Differential: -80 (26). DVOA: -12.5% (24). Cap Space $5,895,383. Previously 24th.
Notable Free Agents: J.J. Watt (DE), A.J. McCarron (QB), Brennan Scarlett (EDGE), Gareon Conley (CB), Will Fuller (WR), Dylan Cole (ILB), Roderick Johnson (OT), Vernon Hargreaves III (CB), Jon Weeks (LS), Phillip Gaines (CB), Michael Thomas (S), Tyrell Adams (LB), Kyle Emanuel (LB), Brent Qvale (OG), P.J. Hall (DL), Pharoah Brown (TE), Dontrelle Hilliard (RB), Carlos Watkins (DL), Cornell Armstrong (CB), Geno Stone (S), Buddy Howell (RB), A.J. Moore (S)
Potential Cuts: Brandin Cooks ($12 million), Whitney Mercilus ($-3 million), David Johnson ($6.4 million), Eric Murray ($968K), Duke Johnson ($5 million), Brandon Dunn ($3.15 million), Zach Fulton ($3 million), Darren Fells ($2.3 million), Senio Kelemte ($1.7 million)
After hiring David Culley, the anthropomorphic Jack Easterby tweet brought to life, no matter what Nick Caserio and the Houston Texans say, I still think the Texans are going to trade Deshaun Watson. You don’t hire Culley if you are bowling for soup, competing for Super Bowls, the goal with Watson on your roster.
Watson is the entirety of this team. Bill O’Brien and Jack Easterby pulled the plug and drained the talent from it. Watson is all that’s left. Houston has gone from a great team with bad quarterback play, to a bad team with great quarterback play, to what is going to be an atrocious team if Watson is traded.
The next two to three years will be the dark ages after this happens. The house stripped for parts. Waiting for top defensive draft picks to come together. Praying for competent quarterback play. Returning to where we belong. I hope there’s copper in that weatherhead.
31.) Detroit Lions—Record: 5-11. Point Differential: -142 (30). DVOA: -15.7% (27). Cap Space -$8,365,122. Previously 29th.
Notable Free Agents: Marvin Jones (WR), Everson Griffen (Edge), Danny Amendola (WR), Duron Harmon (S), Adrian Peterson (RB), Oday Aboushi (G), Reggie Ragland (LB), Kenny Golladay (WR)
Potential Cuts: Desmond Trufant (CB) $6.1 million, Justin Coleman (CB) $4.9 million, Jesse James (TE) $2.1 million, Nicholas Williams (IDL) $4.6 million, Chase Daniel (QB) $2.3 million, Danny Shelton (IDL) $4 million
Jared Goff was a speed limiter for the Los Angeles Rams. His contract pulled them down, and limited how much they could invest into the rest of the roster. He was always a cog in the machine, a product of his system, and Sean McVay could never get the shotgun passing production needed from him.
To atone for his whateverness, the Rams dealt him to Detroit for Matthew Stafford. From an aesthetic and football perspective, there isn’t a funnier place for Goff to play football at. The poor guy will have to leave his Holister flip-flops at home. This volleyball stuck in the storage closet. Gray days and sweat pants replacing acidic palm trees.
His new offensive coordinator is Anthony Lynn, the man behind a competent Tyrod Taylor season, a role he had once—take your time machine back to Buffalo 2016. His head coach is Dan Campbell, a psychopathic stepfather. He’s Mike Vrabel if Mike Vrabel took your Mom out to Chili’s every Friday night and berated you for playing Halo 2. There isn’t a more mismatched quarterback-offensive coordinator-head coach combination than Goff-Lynn-Campbell.
30.) Denver Broncos—Record: 5-11. Point Differential: -123 (29). DVOA: -22.1% (29). Cap Space $31,137,021. Previously 28th.
Notable Free Agents: A.J. Bouye (CB), Justin Simmons (S), Elijah Wilkinson (T), Shelby Harris (DL), Jeremiah Attaochu (Edge), Tim Patrick (WR), Jake Butt (TE), Alexander Johnson (LB), Phillip Lindsay (RB)
Potential Cuts: Von Miller (Edge) $18 million, Kareem Jackson (S) $10 million, Jurrell Casey (IDL) $11.8 million
The Drew Lock intrigue has to stop. He doesn’t have the accuracy to play quarterback in the NFL. That’s it. That’s all there is to it. He’s a dancer at a fourth grade talent show. He isn’t a quarterback prospect.
Vic Fangio is a defensive warlock though. The Broncos have cap space. They have a cute power run game. They are a team that needs some sort of quarterback play, and until they do, nothing they do matters. Luckily, the quarterback position is liquid in the NFL now, and there is always a trade, or free agent available, to turn absolutely nothing into something.
29.) New York Jets—Record: 2-14. Point Differential: -214 (32). DVOA: -30.5% (32). Cap Space $67,948,314. Previously 32nd.
Notable Free Agents: Breshad Perriman (WR), Brian Poole (CB), Bradley McDougald (S), Patrick Onwuasor (LB), Marcus Maye (S), Joe Flacco (QB), Frank Gore (RB), Tarell Basham (Edge)
Potential Cuts: Jamison Crowder (WR) $10.3 million, George Fant (T) $7.8 million, Henry Anderson (IDL) $8.2 million, Alex Lewis (G) $5.1 million
The Jets defense is frisky. They have plenty of competent players who no one knows about, because only sickos and the mentally ill watch Jets football. Neville Hewitt, Folorunso Fatukasi, John Franklin-Myers, and Nathan Shepard all have some juice. Quinnen Williams proved himself as an anchor to an entire front seven.
Robert Saleh provides an immediate jolt of competency, something the Jets were missing during Adam Gase’s ridiculous reign of error. His scheme doesn’t ask much from its defensive backs, and instead relies upon its linebackers to cover the entirety of the field and create front four pressure. C.J. Mosley is coming back from his COVID-19 bubble, and could play in this role, but he was hurt in 2019, and sat out last season. Williams can create for others. They can still use another pass rusher who can win entirely on his own.
The offense is an absolute wreck though. The offensive line is still horrendous after they rebuilt the entirety of it last season. They took someone home from the LaFleur family reunion to try and run the outside, midzone, play action heavy offense.
Competency. Cap Space. Two first round draft picks. The Jets have numerous leaks, but they have the resources to fix it up this offseason.
28.) Philadelphia Eagles—Record: 4-11-1. Point Differential: -84 (27). DVOA: -18.8% (28). Cap Space -$43,189,668. Previously 27th.
Notable Free Agents: DeSean Jackson (WR), Jason Peters (T), Jalen Mills (S), Nate Sudfield (QB), Nickell Robey-Coleman (CB), Vinny Curry (Edge), Hassan Ridgeway (DL), Richard Rodgers (TE), Duke Riley (LB), Nate Gerry (LB), Boston Scott (RB), Greg Ward (WR)
Potential Cuts: Derek Barnett (Edge) $10 million, Zach Ertz (TE) $4.7 million, Marquise Goodwin (WR) $4.2 million, Avonte Maddox (CB) $2.1 million
Because of Carson Wentz’s contract, they will be paying a dead money hit of $33 million this year. The Eagles don’t even get the chance to get the most out of a young quarterback on a rookie contract. Getting the chance to play in a comfy situation thanks to money allocated to the rest of the roster isn’t available to Jalen Hurts. The Eagles are bloated, expensive, and most of all, bad.
27.) Cincinnati Bengals—Record: 4-11-1. Point Differential: -113 (28). DVOA: -24.7% (30). Cap Space $37,653,130. Previously 30th.
Notable Free Agents: A.J. Green (WR), Shawn Williams (S), John Ross (WR), William Jackson III (CB), Christian Covington (DL), Mike Daniels (DL), Margus Hunt (DL), Quinton Spain (G), Carl Lawson (Edge)
Potential Cuts: Trae Waynes (CB) $5.8 million, Geno Atkins (IDL) $9.5 million, Bobby Hart (T) $5.8 million, Trey Hopkins (C) $5.8 million, C.J. Uzomah (TE) $5 million, Von Bell (S) $3.5 million, Giovani Bernard (RB) $4.1 million, B.J. Finney (G) $3.3 million, Xavier Su’a-Filo (G) $2.4 million
Entering last season, I was blasted by a frisson, thinking about the Bengals’ defensive line: Geno Atkins, Carlos Dunlap, D.J. Reader, Carl Lawson, Sam Hubbard. They combined for 8.5 sacks and 49 quarterback hits. Lawson contributed 5.5 sacks and 32 to the ledger. Atkins was traded to Seattle. Dunlap’s shoulder was mangled. Reader lost his leg. Hubbard was merely fine. They are going to cut Atkins. They could lose Lawson to free agency. Carpet meets expectations.
Across the roster there is just an overall talent issue. Cornerback, now defensive line, linebacker, offensive line, the Bengals are barren. They are going to have plenty of cap space this offseason, and cuts are going to put them over Washington, and maybe Indianapolis in available cap space, which would have them fourth. This is a team that may not really become a playoff contender with Joe Burrow until his fourth season, which is a complete and total failure.
Four. This number follows the Bengals everywhere.
26.) New York Giants—Record: 6-10. Point Differential: -77 (24). DVOA: -13.8% (25). Cap Space $906,453. Previously 23rd.
Notable Free Agents: Leonard Williams (DL), Kyler Fackrell (Edge), Cameron Fleming (T), Dion Lewis (RB), Devonta Freeman (RB), Wayne Gallman (RB), Dalvin Tomilson (DL), Jabaal Sheard (DL), Alfred Morris (RB)
Potential Cuts: Nate Solder (T) $6 million, Kevin Zeitler (G) $12 million, Golden Tate (WR) $6.1 million, Jabril Peppers (S) $6.7 million, Evan Engram (TE) $6 million
The Giants are getting closer to becoming the thing they want to be. Their offensive line started to gel down the stretch. The decision to trade for Williams finally worked out, only for him to be a free agent this year, but the Giants will overpay everyone to keep him. Both Peppers and James Bradberry had great seasons. They have additional defensive line depth too.
Like so many other teams, the Giants are stuck at quarterback. The vertical passing offense that Jason Garrett promised never really existed. Daniel Jones is still seeing the game slowly, and like other young quarterbacks, he’s struggled to be an acceptable level of stupid. The other pieces are almost there. But it all comes down to the quarterback.
25.) Chicago Bears—Record: 8-8. Point Differential: +2 (15). DVOA: -0.5% (15). Cap Space -$2,503,900. Previously 16th.
Notable Free Agents: Allen Robinson (WR), Mitch Trubisky (QB), Cordarrelle Patterson (WR), Roy Robertson-Harris (IDL), Demetrius Harris (TE), Mario Edwards Jr. (IDL), Deon Bush (S), Sherrick McManis (S), Barkevious Mingo (Edge), Tashaun Gipson (S), Artie Burns (CB), Germain Ifedi (T), Brent Urban (IDL), DeAndre Carter (WR)
Potential Cuts: Kyle Fuller (CB) $11 million, Akiem Hicks (IDL) $10.5 million, Charles Leno Jr. (T) $6.2 million, Jimmy Graham (TE) $7 million, Bobby Massie (T) $5.4 million
The Mitch Trubisky error has come to an end, and the Bears are forced to begin again. In his place is the unknown, which is a good thing. It’s better to be operating in the shadows of possibilities, then wallow in something because of normalcy, or consistency, if that normalcy and consistency is pretty crappy. They went all in on his rookie contract, and did a fairly good job building around it. They just picked the wrong quarterback. It’s a new era of Bears football, whatever that is supposed to mean.
24.) Dallas Cowboys—Record: 6-10. Point Differential: -78 (25). DVOA: -11.1% (23). Cap Space $19,356,093. Previously 26th.
Notable Free Agents: Dak Prescott (QB), Tyrone Crawford (DL), Sean Lee (LB), Andy Dalton (QB), Cameron Erving (T), Joe Looney (C), Blake Bell (TE), Chidobe Awuzie (CB), Antwuan Woods (DL)
Potential Cuts: N/A
It’s the first offseason, in what seems like forever, the Dallas Cowboys actually have cap space, and more than likely, it’s all going to go to Dak Prescott. They’re going to bank on quarterback health, and for Dan Quinn to rejuvenate the defense. I love ex-head coaches going back to the coordinator role they once flourished in. Get ready for a Dallas cover three defense that may know what it’s doing. If they can get pass rushing production from their first round pick, and the character issue rushers they have play like they did last year, it could work out. The offensive talent is easy though. Even Garrett Gilbert could play ball here.
23.) Minnesota Vikings—Record: 7-9. Point Differential: -45 (22). DVOA: -6.4% (20). Cap Space -$9,449,781. Previously 20th.
Notable Free Agents: Anthony Harris (S), Eric Wilson (LB), Ameer Abdullah (RB), Dakota Dozier (G), George Iloka (S), Chris Jones (CB), Ifeadi Odenigbo (DL), Mike Boone (RB), Chad Beebe (WR)
Potential Cuts: Riley Reiff (T) $11.7 million, Harrison Smith (S) $10.2 million, Kyle Rudolph (TE) $5 million, Shamar Stephen (DL) $3.7 million
It took ten weeks or so, but Mike Zimmer finally found a little bit of something from their defense. The kids learned how to pass receivers off. The deep sideline stopped being an automatic source of yards and points. The defense ended up being below average, clawing out from the abyss.
Next season Zimmer will have to do it all again. They may lose Odenigbo, and Wilson, two of the stalwarts of their defense, because they are still cratered by Kirk Cousins’s $31 million cap hit. He provides perfectly good quarterback play that doesn’t match the amount of the cap he takes up. The time was two years ago. That time has passed.
22.) New England Patriots—Record: 7-9. Point Differential: -27 (19). DVOA: -7.1% (22). Cap Space $62,211,837. Previously 17th.
Notable Free Agents: Joe Thuney (G), Jason McCourty (S), James White (RB), Lawrence Guy (IDL), Adam Butler (IDL), David Andrews (C), Jermaine Eluemunor (G), John Simon (Edge), Rex Burkhead (RB), Cam Newton (QB), Damiere Byrd (WR), Shilique Calhoun (Edge), Brian Hoyer (QB), Donte Moncrief (WR), Deatrich Wise (DL), J.C. Jackson (CB)
Potential Cuts: Stephon Gilmore (CB) $7.3 million, Dont’a Hightower (LB) $9.9 million, Marcus Cannon (RT) $7 million, Julian Edelman (WR) $3.4 million
The theme of the bottom and the middle is quarterback play. Cam Newton is done. Toast. It’s been two years and he doesn’t have the arm strength or accuracy anymore to complete passes seven yards down the field. The Patriots were a rugby team, they weren’t a football team last season. The Patriots are going to look elsewhere next season.
Which offensive linemen they keep will be interesting. If they try and get a pick for Gilmore will be interesting—Cleveland makes sense. Who they sign to play quarterback will be interesting. They have the cap space to keep everyone they want to keep, the space to find a new quarterback, and they can upgrade their empty wide receiver group, their source of frustration over the last two seasons.
21.) Atlanta Falcons—Record: 4-12. Point Differential: -18 (18). DVOA: -4.2% (17). Cap Space -$20,283,889. Previously 25th.
Notable Free Agents: Alex Mack (C), Todd Gurley (RB), Allen Bailey (DL), Charles Harris (Edge), Keanu Neal (S), Brian Hill (RB), Blidi Wreh-Wilson (CB), Darqueze Dennard (CB), Laquon Treadwell (WR)
Potential Cuts: Dante Fowler (Edge) $3.2 million, James Carpenter (G) $4 million
Matt Ryan has a cap hit of $40 million, Julio Jones $23 million, Grady Jarrett $20 million, Jake Matthews $20 million, and Dante Fowler $18 million. Only Jarrett played up to this sum last season. It’s reasonable to expect for Ryan to have his contract restructured, and Fowler could be released this season along with Carpenter.
Arthur Smith is a mid and outside zone, play action passing, redzone offense GOD. His scheme, and his coaching staff, and not losing games in absurd ways (2-8 in one score games), will go a long way for Atlanta to make a jump back to relevancy. I still think Ryan has another great season or two left in him, and Smith can get him there, as he brings him back into a more brutal version of the offense he went to a Super Bowl in. They don’t have the cap space to make major changes, but they have the fourth overall pick.
20.) Jacksonville Jaguars—Record: 1-15. Point Differential: -186 (31). DVOA: -27.9% (31). Cap Space $77,552,150. Previously 31st.
Notable Free Agents: D.J. Hayden (CB), Abry Jones (IDL), Keelan Cole (WR), Chris Conley (WR), Mike Glennon (QB), James O’Shaughnessy (TE), Dawuane Smoot (DL), Adam Gotsis (DL), Dede Westbrook (WR), Tre Herndon (CB)
Potential Cuts: Andrew Norwell (G) $9 million, Brandon Linder (C) $8.5 million, Tyler Eifert (TE) $5.2 million, A.J. Cann (G) $4.9 million
The Jags are set up to make a worst to first run. $77 million in cap space turned into potentially $90 million. Two first round picks. A generational quarterback prospect. No heart breaking free agents. Young talent. Teal is the primary. The AFC South is open, and the top teams are weaker than the surface indicates. Anything is a possibility in this litter box.
19.) Pittsburgh Steelers—Record: 12-4. Point Differential: +104 (7). DVOA: 16.8% (8). Cap Space -$26,131,664. Previously 6th.
Notable Free Agents: Bud Dupree (Edge), Alejandro Villanueva (T), Avery Williamson (LB), Matt Feiler (G), Mike Hilton (CB), Tyson Alualu (IDL), JuJu Smith-Schuster (WR), Cassius Marsh (Edge), Cameron Sutton (CB)
Potential Cuts: Ben Roethlisberger (QB) $19 million, Joe Haden (CB) $7 million, Eric Ebron (TE) $6 million
Last season felt like the end of Pittsburgh. The great start. Roethlisberger staying healthy and playing point guard. The playoff fumble and failures from there. The COWARD field goal on 4th and 1.
The Steelers are losing some of their best players in free agency, and there isn’t a way to create cap space. Sure, you can extend Roethlisberger, but this, and cutting Haden and Ebron isn’t enough. The Steelers were a 53 man team. They won’t have the same gusto next season, and they don’t have the offense to make up the difference.
18.) Carolina Panthers—Record: 5-11. Point Differential: -52 (23). DVOA: -6.7% (21). Cap Space $31,050,936. Previously 22nd.
Notable Free Agents: Kawaan Short (DL), Russell Okung (T), Stephen Weatherly (Edge), John Miller (RG), Mike Davis (RB), Tahir Whitehead (LB), Curtis Samuel (WR), Michael Schofield (G), Chris Manhertz (TE), Taylor Moton (T), Trenton Scott (T), Efe Odaba (DL), Corn Elder (CB)
Potential Cuts: Teddy Bridgewater (QB) $2.9 million, Robby Anderson (WR) $8 million
The Panthers couldn’t scratch a one score win last season. They played the second toughest schedule and lost eight one score games. 5-11 was miraculous considering this, their linebacker play, the defensive youth, and the quarterback, running back, and offensive line injuries they dealt with.
They should try and give it another go with a similar team, and cap space in 2021. The optics are there for improvement. The owner may scream about how 5-11 is unacceptable and look to blow it up. Doing so is the wrong decision.
17.) Las Vegas Raiders—Record: 8-8. Point Differential: -44 (21). DVOA: -6.3% (19). Cap Space -$18,675,669. Previously 19th.
Notable Free Agents: Maliek Collins (DL), Jonathan Hankins (DL), Nicholas Morrow (LB), Takkarist McKinley (Edge), Erik Harris (S), Denzelle Good (G), Nevin Lawson (CB), Derek Carrier (TE), Zay Jones (WR), Raekwon McMillan (LB), Sam Young (T), Devontae Booker (RB), Nelson Agholor (WR), Nathan Peterman (QB), Vic Beasley (Edge), Theo Riddick (RB)
Potential Cuts: Trent Brown (T) $14 million, Tyrell Williams (WR) $10.6 million, Marcus Mariota (QB) $11.3 million, Lamarcus Joyner (S) $8.7 million, Gabe Jackson (G) $9.6 million, Richie Incognito (G) $5.6 million, Jalen Richard (RB) $3.1 million
The Raiders are in the black, but cutting Williams, Joyner, and Incognito, and trading Mariota to a team like Chicago, will get them back. Like last offseason, this offseason is the same; they have to improve defensively. Their defensive experiement is similar to Dallas’s. Utilize another former Seattle defensive coordinator turned failed head coach to improve the defense without the ability to invest heavily in it.
Keeping Derek Carr is the correct move though. It wasn’t his fault the defense couldn’t force turnovers, and 30 points was needed to pull off wins.
16.) Miami Dolphins—Record: 10-6. Point Differential: +66 (11). DVOA: 4.6% (12). Cap Space $22,769,465. Previously 13th.
Notable Free Agents: Ryan Fitzpatrick (QB), Matt Brieda (RB), Ted Karras (C), Kamu Grugier-Hill (LB), Vince Biegel (LB), Elandon Roberts (LB), Julie’n Davenport (T), Davon Godchaux (DL), Nik Needham (CB)
Potential Cuts: Kyle Van Noy (Edge) $9.7 million, Bobby McCain (CB) $5.6 million, Albert Wilson (WR) $2.8 million
Who knew drafting Laremy Tunsil in 2016 would be the turning point for the Miami Dolphins. After making the playoffs once in recent memory, thanks to beating bad teams by close margins, they had to learn from the lizard, self mutilate, and regrow their own tail. Like the Cardinals after them, they took advantage of Houston’s internal turmoil and trauma and desperation. Tunsil became two first round picks and a second round pick, one of which is now the third overall pick in this year’s draft, and what could be the 35th overall pick in the second round. The Tunsil trade is great!!! These future picks are going to be in the mid 20s and aren’t that valuable.
Regardless of what Tu’a was and wasn’t last year, he’s still a young talented quarterback. Not everyone is Deshaun Watson, or Justin Herbert. Sometimes these things take time. He has the athleticism, mind, and accuracy, and he can throw three routes really well. The defense is there even if the turnovers forced and non-offensive touchdowns will drop next season. The cap space and draft capital can provide another wide receiver and help along the offensive line. Everyone is expecting for them or the Jets to land Watson, but even if they don’t, they are set up well for this season and future seasons to come.
15.) Arizona Cardinals—Record: 8-8. Point Differential: +43 (13). DVOA: 3.6% (13). Cap Space $11,833,440. Previously 14th.
Notable Free Agents: Patrick Peterson (CB), Larry Fitzgerald (WR), Kenyan Drake (RB), De’Vondre Campbell (LB), J.R. Sweezy (G), Markus Golden (Edge), Corey Peters (IDL), Hassan Reddick (Edge), Zane Gonzalez (K), Andy Lee (P), Domata Petko (IDL), Kelvin Beachum (T), Dre Kirkpatrick (CB)
Potential Cuts: Chandler Jones (Edge) $15.5 million, Justin Pugh (G) $7.1 million, Robert Alford (CB) $7.5 million
The Cardinals were the most disappointing team last season. The sentence that precedes this one has nothing to do with their playoff miss either. What should have been red hot and electric, was pink and flaccid. The Cardinals weren’t air raid and audacious. They were all DeAndre Hopkins out routes and Kyler Murray scrambles.
Hopefully, it was just a learning season that was ruined by a punt at the backup quarterback position. The skill talent is undeniable. Vance Joseph has continued the tradition of big blitzing in Arizona. It shouldn’t be too difficult to convince players to take a discount and play here in a shrunken cap season.
14.) New Orleans Saints—Record: 12-4. Point Differential: +145 (2). DVOA: 33.3% (1). Cap Space -$69,500,461. Previously 4th.
Notable Free Agents: Jared Cook (TE), Nick Easton (G), Sheldon Rankins (IDL), P.J. Williams (CB), Marcus Williams (S), Johnson Bademosi (S), D.J. Swearinger (S), Jameis Winston (QB), Ty Montgomery (RB), Alex Anzalone (LB)
Potential Cuts: Kwon Alexander (LB) $13.1 million, Ryan Ramczyk (T) $11 million, Marshon Lattimore (CB) $10.2 million, Janoris Jenkins (CB) $7 million, Taysom Hill (QB) $5 million, Emmanuel Sanders (WR) $4 million, Malcolm Brown (IDL) $4.9 million, Josh Hill (TE) $2.5 million
New Orleans had the most talented 2-53 man roster in the NFL the last three seasons. They lost in the NFC Championship, Wildcard Round, and Divisional Round. Each season fixing the previous years flaws. The problem was at the quarterback position. Drew Brees’s arm defaulted, the interior pressure destroyed him, and the end goal was never accomplished. Now they have reached the end.
As someone with a binge drinking business degree, and an understanding of how the salary cap works, I have no idea how the Saints are going to pull this off. It’s going to be a Sophie’s Choice offseason for New Orleans. None of the options facing them are good.
13.) Washington Football Team—Record: 7-9. Point Differential: +6 (14). DVOA: -2.3% (16). Cap Space $38,277,074. Previously 12th.
Notable Free Agents: Brandon Scherff (G), Ryan Kerrigan (Edge), Kevin Pierre-Louis (LB), Ronald Darby (CB), Rueben Foster (LB), Ryan Anderson (Edge), Fabian Moreau (CB), Robert Foster (WR), Cam Sims (WR), Jeremy Sprinkle (TE), Kyle Allen (QB)
Potential Cuts: Alex Smith (QB) $14.7 million
OUR Football Team is ready for now. They have one more year of their defensive line on rookie contracts and the defense is already legit. They have a good midzone blocking offensive line, and great run game whenever Antonio Gibson has it. Their skill players are bright and sunny and have a wide variety of skills.
The problem is the quarterback position. Taylor Heinicke stole our hearts, but there’s no way this can be enough to invest sixteen games into. Yet, of all the teams without a quarterback, OUR Football Team is the best team out there.
12.) Cleveland Browns—Record: 11-5. Point Differential: -11 (16). DVOA: -5.6% (18). Cap Space $20,224,057. Previously 15th.
Notable Free Agents: Olivier Vernon (Edge), Kevin Johnson (CB), Terrance Mitchell (CB), Karl Joseph (S), B.J. Goodson (LB), Andrew Sendejo (S), Kendall Lamm (T), Malcolm Smith (LB), Larry Ogunjobi (DT)
Potential Cuts: Jarvis Landry (WR) $11.7 million, Sheldon Richardson (DT) $11.5 million, David Njoku (TE) $6 million
The Browns have to get better this offseason. They turned from fraudulent to competent, but they won’t have the same fortune they had last season. This improvement can come from Baker Mayfield, and internal offensive development. The Browns can also shed expensive contracts to add another top player they absolutely love, or spread it out along the the defense that failed them too often last season.
Cutting Landry and giving his role to Donovan Peoples-Jones or Rishard Higgins makes sense. Keeping Ogunjobi over Richardson makes sense too. The Browns have decisions to make on how they want to invest the $20 million they have into the defense.
11.) Los Angeles Rams—Record: 10-6. Point Differential: +76 (10). DVOA: 15.4% (9). Cap Space -$33,986,331. Previously 10th.
Notable Free Agents: Leonard Floyd (Edge), Austin Blythe (C), Troy Hill (CB), Malcom Brown (RB), Gerald Everett (TE), Morgan Fox (IDL), John Johnson (S), Josh Reynolds (WR), Samson Ebukam (Edge), Darious Williams (CB)
Potential Cuts: Andrew Whitworth (T) $5.3 million, Michael Brockers (IDL) $4.6 million, Rob Havenstein (T) $5.1 million
The Rams currently have $69 million devoted to Aaron Donald, Jalen Ramsey, and Matt Stafford. $30 million of their cap is dead money wasted on Todd Gurley and Jared Goff. They are over the cap, and the only cuts that make sense monetarily are key players along the line of scrimmage.
Defensively, they have gotten the absolute most from Donald and Ramsey to give their cost effective players easy assignments, and chances to make plays. This idea will be stretched to the brink. Fox, Johnson, and Hill were key contributors to the defense last season, and Williams and Floyd were stars. Brandon Staley’s two high cover four defense has turned into Raheem Morris.
The Rams made their big move already. They are going to rely upon Stafford and the offensive to make up for the impending defensive drop off.
10.) Indianapolis Colts—Record: 11-5. Point Differential: +89 (8). DVOA: 14.3% (10). Cap Space $43,635,239. Previously 11th.
Notable Free Agents: Jacoby Brissett (QB), T.Y. Hilton (WR), Justin Houston (Edge), Denico Autry (Edge), Malik Hooker (S), Le’Raven Clark (T), T.J. Carrie (CB), Trey Burton (TE), Chaz Green (T), Joey Hunt (C), Anthony Walker (LB), Mo Alie-Cox (TE), Zach Pascal (WR), Al-Quadin Muhammad (Edge), Marlon Mack (RB), George Odum (S)
Potential Cuts: N/A
It’s another offseason where the Colts have cap space, and a quarterback decision to make. Two years ago it was the future without Andrew Luck. Last year it was the present after Jacoby Brissett failed. This year it’s the Carson Wentz rehabilitation project. Stop drinking so many margaritas Carson.
The Colts have a replacement plan for every free agent they may lose. They have the space to add another pass rusher. If Wentz becomes Wentz again, which just means if he plays like he played like exactly one time before, the Colts are the AFC South favorite. This is a stretch though. Last season he was the worst quarterback in the league, and the least valuable player in the NFL. If Frank Reich can bandage his feelings and get him throwing crossing routes again, then, at a minimum, this should be alright.
9.) Tennessee Titans—Record: 11-5. Point Differential: +52 (12). DVOA: 2.9% (14). Cap Space -$2,192,236. Previously 8th.
Notable Free Agents: Jadeveon Clowney (Edge), DaQuan Jones (DL), Corey Davis (WR), Stephen Gostkowski (K), MyCole Pruitt (TE), Ty Sambrailo (T), Jack Crawford (IDL), Geoff Swaim (TE), Will Compton (LB), Tye Smith (CB), Jonnu Smith (TE), D’Onta Foreman (RB), Anthony Firkser (TE)
Potential Cuts: Malcolm Butler (CB) $10.2 million, Adoree’ Jackson (CB) $10.2 million, Adam Humphries (WR) $4.7 million, Ben Jones (C) $6.25 million
A lot of things are staring the Titans in the face. Derrick Henry’s longevity. The 7-2 one score record. The pissy defense. The lack of cap space. Losing Arthur Smith. A +11 turnover differential that led the NFL.
I still believe in the talent they have. A defensive coordinator should improve things. I still think the adages don’t apply to Derrick Henry and he has another season left. The free agent losses aren’t killer, and they should bring Corey Davis back. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe I’m just a Titans fan.
WE SHOULD BE CONTENDERS
8.) San Francisco 49ers—Record: 6-10. Point Differential: -14 (17). DVOA: 5.4% (11). Cap Space $13,359,654. Previously 21st.
Notable Free Agents: Trent Williams (T), Richard Sherman (CB), Solomon Thomas (Edge), Jaquiski Tartt (S), Kyle Juszcyk (FB), Tevin Coleman (RB), Kendrick Bourne (WR), Ronald Blair (Edge), Ben Garland (C), Kerry Hyder (DL), Ezekiel Ansah (DL), Jerrick McKinnon (RB), Jason Verrett (CB), Ahkello Witherspoon (CB), Dion Jordan (DL), C.J. Beathard (QB), Nick Mullens (QB), Ross Dwelley (TE)
Potential Cuts: Jimmy Garoppolo (QB) $23.6 million, Dee Ford (Edge) $5.7 million, Weston Richburg (C) $4.5 million, Raheem Mostert (RB) $3.1 million
Last season the 49ers were hungover. Alka-seltzer in the water. This year they can pull themselves up from out of it. Nick Bosa, and others who were injured are back. They can pull a new quarterback out of the hat. John Lynch has done a great job skimming talent from unknown sources, and the coaching staff has consistently turned the has beens, and the nothings, into somethings. A dramatic one year drop off is usually followed with a bounce back.
7.) Los Angeles Chargers—Record: 7-9. Point Differential: -42 (20). DVOA: -23.4% (26). Cap Space $23,801,246. Previously 18th.
Notable Free Agents: Melvin Ingram (Edge), Hunter Henry (TE), Mike Pouncey (C), Denzel Perryman (LB), Tyrod Taylor (QB), Michael Davis (CB), Virgil Green (TE), Forrest Lamp (G), Dan Feeney (C), Jaylen Watkins (S), Jahleel Addae (S), Rayshawn Jenkins (S), Sam Tevi (T), Michael Badgley (K)
Potential Cuts: Mike Williams (WR) $15.6 million, Linval Joseph (IDL) $7.9 million, Casey Hayward (CB) $9.75 million, Trai Turner (G) $11.5 million, Chris Harris (CB) $7.5 million
This is the team. Justin Herbert is a transcendent talent. The talent is already here and everything is in place to build around his rookie contract. Staley’s two high shells is perfect for the modern NFL, even if they were balance attacked and destroyed by Green Bay, thanks to an uncharacteristic Donald and Ramsey game. And, most importantly, Lynn is gone. The 1-7 one score record they had at one point in the season ruined them. They should improve next season.
The Chargers are the next great team. Put this on a magazine.
6.) Seattle Seahawks—Record: 12-4. Point Differential: +88 (9). DVOA: 20.1% (5). Cap Space $4,391,354. Previously 7th.
Notable Free Agents: Greg Olsen (TE), K.J. Wright (LB), Bruce Irvin (Edge), Quinton Dunbar (CB), Jacob Hollister (TE), Benson Mayowa (Edge), Carlos Hyde (RB), Mike Iupati (G), Cedric Ogbuehi (T), Geno Smith (QB), Ethan Pocic (C), Luke Wilson (TE), Branden Jackson (Edge), Phillip Dorsett (WR), Chance Warmack (G), David Moore (WR), Shaquill Griffin (CB), Jordan Simmons (G), Chris Carson (RB), Poona Ford (IDL)
Potential Cuts: Tyler Lockett (WR) $12.7 million, Carlos Dunlap $14 million, Jarran Reed (IDL) $8.9 milllion, Duane Brown (T) $11.3 million, Quandre Diggs (S) $6.1 million, Brandon Shell (T) $3.3 million
The Seahawks can’t be normal. It’s impossible for them to put on a polo shirt and get Costco avocados without turning the trip into Revolutionary Road. Even the offseason becomes whining about the offensive line and the future, when the team’s structure is based on ignoring the offensive line, breaking tackles, and having Russell Wilson create outisde the non-existent structure of the offense.
They always beat regression. They always make the postseason. They always make enough fringe moves and trades to stay afloat and find themselves in the same place to fail in the same spot.
5.) Baltimore Ravens—Record: 11-5. Point Differential: +165 (1). DVOA: 18.6% (7). Cap Space $18,064,773. Previously 9th.
Notable Free Agents: Matt Judon (Edge), Yannick Ngakoue (Edge), Willie Snead (WR), Nick Boyle (TE), Mark Ingram (RB), Derek Wolfe (IDL), Matt Skura (C), Robert Griffin III (QB), Tyus Bowser (Edge), Pernell McPhee (Edge), D.J. Fluker (G), Tramon Williams (CB), Dez Bryant (WR), Jihad Ward (IDL), Justin Ellis (IDL), Gus Edwards (RB)
Potential Cuts: Calias Campbell (IDL) $6 million, Brandon Williams (IDL) $7.5 million
I still believe in Lamar Jackson. Even though the offensive struggles were on his inability to throw it along the sideline, I still have seams in my heart producing positive thoughts, that he can do this, he can be this guy. Plus, having David Culley no longer around helps.
Baltimore gets one more year of his rookie contract. They have more defensive free agents then usual, but they always have someone else from South Central Alabama State in the cyrochamber ready to break out. They can always use another wide receiver.
This team is still set up. The defense may drop off some. But at the end of the day, it’s going to depend on Jackson being a more complete passer. He as a lot to accomplish this summer. If Josh Allen can do it, anyone can.
4.) Buffalo Bills—Record: 13-3. Point Differential: +126 (5). DVOA: 23.8% (4). Cap Space -$1,011,351. Previously 3rd.
Notable Free Agents: Trent Murphy (Edge), Josh Norman (CB), Ty Nsheke (T), Tyler Kroft (TE), Jon Feliciano (G), Brian Winters (G), Daryl Williams (T), Matt Barkley (QB), Taiwan Jones (RB), T.J. Yeldon (RB), Levi Wallace (CB), Matt Milano (LB), Ike Boettger (G)
Potential Cuts: John Brown (WR) $7.9 million, Vernon Butler (IDL) $6.8 million, Quinton Jefferson (IDL) $6.5 million
How good is our God? After turning Allen from a revolution in entertainment, into a MVP candidate, the Bills have supplanted themselves as Super Bowl contenders. The team and coaching staff is still in place. Every decision this offseason is a fringe one, a nicety. After dinner garage tinkering.
3.) Green Bay Packers—Record: 13-3. Point Differential: +140 (3). DVOA: 25.9% (3). Cap Space -$11,451,306. Previously 2nd.
Notable Free Agents: Corey Linsley (C), Christian Kirksey (LB), Ricky Wagner (T), Marcedes Lewis (TE), Kevin King (CB), Damon Harrison (IDL), Tyler Ervin (RB), Robert Tonyan (TE), Jamaal Williams (RB), Allen Lazard (WR), Aaron Jones (RB)
Potential Cuts: Preston Smith (Edge) $8 million, Adriam Amos (S) $4.3 million, Dean Lowry (IDL) $3.3 million, Mason Crosby (K) $2.5 million, Devin Funchess (WR) $1.2 million
The 2021 Packers are going to be an emptier version of the 2020 Packers. The key difference is the 2020 Packers made the playbook changes needed to improve the offense strategically to have the season they had last year. These dramatic changes are no longer available. There is going to be a talent drain this offseason. 2021 is going to be about holding on, not moving up.
2.) Kansas City Chiefs—Record: 14-2. Point Differential: +111 (6). DVOA: 19.5% (6). Cap Space -23,132,376. Previously 1st.
Notable Free Agents: Sammy Watkins (WR), Daniel Sorensen (S), Bashaud Breeland (S), Alex Okafor (Edge), Damien Wilson (LB), Demarcus Robinson (WR), Austin Reiter (C), Anthony Sherman (FB), Kelechi Osemele (G), Mike Remmers (T), Tanoh Kpassagnon (DL), Le’Veon Bell (RB), Ricky Seals-Jones (TE), Taco Charlton (Edge), Andrew Wylie (G), Ben Niemann (LB), Charvarius Ward (CB), Byron Pringle (CB)
Potential Cuts: Tyrann Mathieu (S) $14.8 million, Eric Fisher (T) $12 million
The Chiefs are a sneaky regression team for 2021. They went 8-2 in one score games. They won 3.3 more games than expected. This just means they’ll probably win 10 games next year, instead of 14.
Like Green Bay, they are going to have a talent drain. They’ll probably cut Fisher, and restructure some contracts to get under. But, at the end of the day, they have Patrick Mahomes, and that’s all that really matters.
1.) Tampa Bay Buccaneers—Record: 11-5. Point Differential: +137 (4). DVOA: 31.5% (2). Cap Space $13,361,683. Previously 5th.
Notable Free Agents: Shaquil Barrett (Edge), Lavonte David (LB), Rob Gronkowski (TE), Ndamukong Suh (DT), Steve McLendon (IDL), Leonard Fournette (RB), Joe Haeg (OL), Antonio Brown (WR), Rakeem Nunez-Roches (IDL), Kevin Minter (LB), Blaine Gabbert (QB), Chris Godwin (WR)
Potential Cuts: Donovan Smith (T) $14.2 million, Ali Marpet (G) $7.1 million, Ryan Jensen (C) $10 million, Cameron Brate (TE) $6.5 million, O.J. Howard (TE) $6 million, William Gholston (Edge) $5.5 million
Who do they decide to keep? What do they do to manipulate things to run it back? Will players sacrifice their own self interests to stay? Who will choose to take less to chase a ring in Tompa? The Bucs have a fascinating spring.