Every NFL Team's Biggest Offseason Regret
This will change over the coming months. But for now, here's what we do know:
1. For all intents and purposes, the NFL offseason is over.
2. Every team—even the one that wins Super Bowl LII—will have regrets about what went down this offseason.
Let's predict what each organization will regret most of all.
Arizona Cardinals: Not Investing in a Potential Quarterback of the Future
I don't trust Carson Palmer, and neither should you.
Palmer's 2015 season was superb, but that's the only good year he's had since coming to the Arizona Cardinals in 2013. He threw 22 interceptions in an ugly maiden season with the Cards. He missed the majority of the 2014 campaign because of a knee injury. Last season, his numbers plummeted as he ranked 20th out of the 30 qualified quarterbacks in terms of passer rating.
The league's fourth-oldest quarterback is entering his 14th season, and the Cards don't have any viable options if the 37-year-old isn't able to remain both healthy and productive. Backup Drew Stanton has more career interceptions (19) than touchdowns (14), fellow backup Blaine Gabbert is a bust who has lost 31 of his 40 NFL starts and undrafted rookie Trevor Knight is a long shot.
The Cardinals didn't draft a quarterback in April, and it's been over a decade since they selected one before Round 4. They will wind up regretting that this fall.
Atlanta Falcons: Firing Defensive Coordinator Richard Smith
The Atlanta Falcons are doing their best to ensure they aren't traumatized by what happened on Feb. 5. But Super Bowl hangovers are real, and blowing a 25-point Super Bowl lead could result in an epic one.
The Falcons essentially did a dozen shots of tequila and passed out without drinking any water or eating any food. They'll now wake up in September and be reminded of what they did at the biggest party in sports. Not only did they choke on the grandest of stages, but they followed that up by firing their defensive coordinator, Richard Smith.
Was that a sober decision? Was it a knee-jerk reaction to a meltdown that required a wide variety of elements in order to transpire, many of which had nothing to do with Smith's defense? This is one of the youngest and most talented units in the league, and Smith had it performing extremely well late in 2016. During the final four weeks of the regular season, they ranked seventh league-wide in points per game allowed (18.8) and tied for fourth in terms of takeaways (nine).
How will Atlanta react to Smith's departure? We'll soon find out.
Baltimore Ravens: Not Signing Colin Kaepernick
The Baltimore Ravens might regret letting a starting offensive lineman go for the second straight offseason (Kelechi Osemele last year; Rick Wagner this year). They might regret not keeping potential Swiss Army knife Kyle Juszczyk. They might regret giving big bucks to good-not-great defensive tackle Brandon Williams. And they might regret signing 31-year-old cornerback Brandon Carr in free agency.
But they have a bigger chance of regretting their decision not to give lightning-rod free-agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick a shot.
That's not just because Joe Flacco is still recovering from a back injury or because it's hard to have faith in his primary backup, Ryan Mallett, who has a 55.0 percent completion rate, seven touchdowns, 10 picks and a 64.9 passer rating in 19 career games. It's because Flacco isn't particularly good, and he hasn't been for some time.
You'd never know it based on the coverage and money he gets, but the nine-year veteran has never been to a Pro Bowl or led the league in a major statistical category. Among the 17 quarterbacks who have started 80 or more games since 2008, he ranks ahead of only Ryan Fitzpatrick with a rating of 84.5. His rating last season (83.5) and the year before (83.1) were lower than that even though he's supposed to be in his prime.
It wouldn't hurt Baltimore to have another option with big-game experience. Yet the Ravens appeared to chicken out on Kaepernick, possibly fearing the backlash could have adversely affected their business. That's unfortunate and something they may grow to regret if Flacco can't stay healthy and productive.
Buffalo Bills: Hiring Their Head Coach Before Firing Their General Manager
Buffalo Bills owners Terry and Kim Pegula fired Rex and Rob Ryan near the conclusion of another disappointing season but kept general manager Doug Whaley. And then after hiring Sean McDermott as their new head coach in January, they proceeded to fire Whaley one day after the 2017 NFL draft came to an end.
The Pegulas replaced Whaley with Brandon Beane, who didn't draft his own rookie class, didn't sign the vast majority of the players on the roster, didn't hire his coaching staff and didn't have much say over who'd be his so-called franchise quarterback.
That's not typically how smart teams operate. Smart teams clean house, bring in a new GM, let that guy hire a new head coach and assistants and then allow that entire unit to draft and sign players.
Instead, the Bills are setting themselves up for a potential power struggle between McDermott and Beane, and neither feels a lot of attachment to the players on the roster. And that's something that has already reared its head, with the team trading away two projected starters—wide receiver Sammy Watkins and cornerback Ronald Darby—just weeks before the start of the regular season.
It's the epitome of dysfunction. And it's something they could regret before the 2017 season comes to its conclusion, especially if said season concludes with the Bills outside of the playoff picture for the 18th consecutive year.
Carolina Panthers: Signing Matt Kalil
The Carolina Panthers might have become desperate after failing to get much out of the important left tackle position since Jordan Gross retired in 2013. But Matt Kalil? And $31 million guaranteed on a five-year, $55.5 million contract?
Kalil might have looked like he was going to have a strong career after earning a Pro Bowl nod as a rookie No. 4 overall pick in 2012, but he struggled in each of his next three seasons with the Minnesota Vikings and missed most of the 2016 campaign because of a hip injury. He hasn't been a high-quality piece in nearly half a decade, yet the Panthers made him the seventh-highest-paid offensive lineman in football in terms of guaranteed money.
What's more, the guy who gave Kalil that contract, Dave Gettleman, is gone. So there's a chance the organization already regrets signing Kalil. And if the Panthers don't, it's only a matter of time before they realize how unworthy he is.
Chicago Bears: Signing Mike Glennon
In March, the Chicago Bears spent $18.5 million in guaranteed money on free-agent quarterback Mike Glennon. And then in April, they traded their third- and fourth-round picks in 2017 and a third-round pick in 2018 to move up one spot from No. 3 to No. 2 to draft quarterback Mitchell Trubisky.
It was all very confusing, and had me checking to make sure rules hadn't changed regarding how many forward passes were allowed on each play from scrimmage. Still one, but the Bears looked as though they were investing in two franchise quarterbacks in the same offseason.
Inevitably, if Glennon becomes a steady starter, the Bears will regret selling the farm in order to land Trubisky. And if Trubisky becomes anything remotely special, they'll wonder why they gave all that cash to Glennon.
Guaranteed, unavoidable regret.
It's looking as though the Glennon signing is the move they'll rue. He was abysmal in the team's preseason opener, completing just two of eight passes for 20 yards (along with a pick-six) in four scoreless series. And Trubisky shone, completing all but seven of 25 passes for 160 yards and a touchdown in a turnover- and sack-free performance.
It's early, but Trubisky had a killer 2016 season at North Carolina, and Glennon threw just 11 passes in the past two years. This shouldn't surprise anyone.
Cincinnati Bengals: Letting 2 Starting Offensive Linemen Go
The Cincinnati Bengals entered the 2017 offseason with money to spend. Yet a team that won just six games last season inexplicably signed only two outside free agents to one-year contracts worth a total of $7.5 million.
Meanwhile, key in-house free agents Rex Burkhead, Karlos Dansby, Margus Hunt, Domata Peko, Andrew Whitworth and Kevin Zeitler got away.
From a broad perspective, I get the feeling the Bengals will regret their decision to essentially sleep through free agency. But if we're being specific, letting Whitworth and Zeitler walk is particular egregious. That's 40 percent of your freakin' offensive line and two of the steadiest and most talented players on the roster.
Yes, Zeitler got big money from the Cleveland Browns (ugh, a divisional rival), but Whitworth—an All-Pro in 2015 who made a second consecutive Pro Bowl in 2016—signed a rather reasonable three-year, $33.75 million deal with the Los Angeles Rams.
Both are gone, and according to Over the Cap, the Bengals have close to $19 million in the bank. Sad!
Cleveland Browns: Giving a $32.5M Contract to Kenny Britt
The Cleveland Browns came pretty close to acing this offseason, which isn't hard to do when you have a million draft picks and a billion dollars to spend. But you've still got to spend smartly, and it was a shame to see promising wide receiver Terrelle Pryor skip town for only $6 million on a one-year contract with the Washington Redskins while the Browns gave Kenny Britt a four-year, $32.5 million with $17 million guaranteed.
The Browns are supposed to be all about upside, and Pryor has more of it than an eight-year veteran who has never been to a Pro Bowl and is only now coming off his first 1,000-yard campaign.
Britt enjoyed a breakout 2016 season, during which he had 68 catches, 1,002 yards and five touchdowns with the offensively challenged Los Angeles Rams, but he might have peaked in his age-28 season, and Pryor should only get better.
If that's the case, the Browns will wish they could have that one back.
Dallas Cowboys: Not Adding/Keeping Insurance at Running Back and Quarterback
Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott made up arguably the best rookie quarterback/running back duo in NFL history last season, but sophomore slumps happen, and the league's defensive coordinators have undoubtedly been working hard to solve both Dallas Cowboys stars in 2017.
That's why the team should have done everything in its power to keep veteran starter-turned-backup Tony Romo on board while also investing in a back with a higher ceiling than Darren McFadden (about to turn 30 and coming off a bad, injury-plagued season), Alfred Morris (has averaged just 3.7 yards per carry the past two years) and Ronnie Hillman (a journeyman who is lucky to be on an NFL roster).
That's especially the case now Elliott is facing a suspension.
The Cowboys didn't have a lot of money to spend this offseason, so their regrets later in the season could extend back to previous years. But if we're focusing solely on 2017, owner Jerry Jones could wind up wishing he had kept Romo and invested in one of the many affordable, experienced backs who hit the market in March.
Denver Broncos: Not Signing Another Quarterback
It's getting ugly in Denver, where Broncos general manager John Elway got cocky after his team won Super Bowl 50 despite bad quarterback play and then doubled down by letting an in-over-his-head, second-year seventh-round pick compete with an overdrafted, raw rookie for the starting job.
The former, Trevor Siemian, beat out the latter, Paxton Lynch, in 2016. But he failed to stand out, and the Broncos missed the playoffs. One year later, Siemian is again failing to stand out and Lynch is again failing to live up to his potential. But because Elway stubbornly refused to bring in a veteran earlier in the offseason, they're married to one or the other.
Yahoo Sports' Charles Robinson recently determined that Siemian was ahead of Lynch "basically by default," and neither did anything to change that uninspiring outlook during Denver's preseason opener against the Bears.
That could change, but it's looking as though shaky quarterback play—and Elway's hubris—could cost the Broncos dearly in 2017.
Detroit Lions: Giving $19M Guaranteed to Guard T.J. Lang
The Detroit Lions might have upgraded their offensive line by replacing Riley Reiff with Rick Wagner at right tackle and Larry Warford with T.J. Lang at right guard, but they could still end up regretting the financial commitment they made to Lang.
The Eastern Michigan product is coming off his first Pro Bowl campaign but will turn 30 in September and could soon begin to decline given he's entering his ninth NFL season. He's started 94 games over the past eight years, which can lead to a lot of wear and tear. And that was evident when he was forced to undergo separate surgeries on his hip and foot early in the offseason.
Lang could come through. But there's a chance that contract becomes a burden as he ages.
Meanwhile, Warford, who is nearly four years younger and probably has a higher ceiling, signed a four-year contract with the New Orleans Saints that guarantees him $17 million.
Green Bay Packers: Not Investing in a Veteran Running Back
The Green Bay Packers are rolling the dice at the running back position, hoping that converted wide receiver Ty Montgomery doesn't give them snake eyes.
Surprisingly, Green Bay let veteran back Eddie Lacy walk, signed no backs in free agency and selected none in the first three rounds of the draft. They did take three backs later in the draft but followed up by releasing veterans Don Jackson and Christine Michael, leaving Montgomery—a receiver at this point last year—as the only experienced back on the roster.
That remains the case in camp, despite the fact the 24-year-old has carried the ball 12-plus times in only one game as a pro running back. He did pick up 162 yards on 16 attempts versus the Bears in Week 15 last year, but that preceded an average of only 3.9 yards per attempt in the final two games of the regular season before he picked up just 91 yards on 25 carries (for a 3.6 average) in the playoffs.
He disappeared often, which isn't good. And he struggled with eight yards on four touches and a fumble in Green Bay's preseason opener.
The Packers could use more experience back there.
Houston Texans: Not Spending an Early Pick on an Offensive Tackle
The Houston Texans could wind up regretting the fact they traded up to select a quarterback in the first round of the draft because those endeavors fail more often than they succeed. But that will take time, and they have to concern themselves with protecting the quarterback in question, Deshaun Watson.
With veteran left tackle Duane Brown still holding out and rookie fourth-round pick Julie'n Davenport struggling in his debut, Watson was constantly under pressure while taking three sacks in Houston's preseason opener against the Panthers.
Brown is fighting for a new contract and is already an injury concern as he approaches his 32nd birthday, veteran tackle Derek Newton is still recovering from ruptured patellar tendons (yes, plural) and right tackle Chris Clark is a tremendous liability in pass protection. But the Texans didn't draft an offensive tackle before taking Davenport in Round 4, and their only free-agent pickup at offensive line was the soon-to-be 32-year-old Breno Giacomini, who is probably best suited as a depth guy.
There's a good chance they will soon look back and wonder whether they could have done more.
Indianapolis Colts: Not Buying Quarterback Insurance
Colin Kaepernick? Brian Hoyer? Josh McCown? Ryan Fitzpatrick? Geno Smith? Jay Cutler? All are better quarterbacks than Indianapolis Colts backup Scott Tolzien, who bombed when filling in for Andrew Luck last season and wasn't any better as Aaron Rodgers' backup in Green Bay.
Most, if not all, of those guys would have cost more than Tolzien, but you can't put a price tag on security at the quarterback position. Luck remains out as he recovers from shoulder surgery, and Colts general manager Chris Ballard told NFL Network's Tom Pelissero that it's still to be determined whether the franchise quarterback will be available to start in Week 1.
Few teams can afford to go through an extended stretch without their starting quarterback, but having to use Tolzien for even a few games in the highly competitive AFC South could cost Indianapolis a playoff spot. They might not have anticipated that Luck would take this long to get back on the field, but they still should have protected themselves by bringing in a stronger backup.
Jacksonville Jaguars: Sticking with Blake Bortles
But the Colts aren't the only AFC South team with quarterback issues. The Jacksonville Jaguars are also taking a big chance under center by rolling with disappointing former No. 3 overall pick Blake Bortles in 2017.
The Jaguars have won just 11 of Bortles' 45 starts since his rookie season in 2014, and several of his key rate-based numbers declined in his third year. That's a bad sign.
And while it's encouraging that the 25-year-old is working on his mechanics—he received praise on his mechanical corrections from new Jags executive vice president Tom Coughlin on NFL Network and is working with quarterback guru Tom House, according to Josh Ciganek of Florida Football Insiders—he also told reporters he's been focusing on limiting his "stupid" turnovers not long before throwing five interceptions in a full-pad practice early in training camp, according to ESPN.com's Michael DiRocco.
The odds are good Bortles officially becomes a bust, but the talented Jags will sink or swim with him after exercising his fifth-year option and loudly proclaiming him to be their starter. That might backfire.
Kansas City Chiefs: Trading Up to Draft Patrick Mahomes
It's simple: History indicates Patrick Mahomes—like fellow first-round trade-up targets Watson and Trubisky—is more likely to fail than to succeed.
As noted in the article linked above, 26 quarterbacks were drafted in the first round between 2006 and 2015. Only 10 of those 26 are NFL starters, only 14 are under contract with NFL teams and only one (Flacco) has won a Super Bowl. Seventeen of the 26 have never made a Pro Bowl, and only two—Cam Newton of the Panthers in 2015 and Matt Ryan of the Falcons in 2016—have been first-team All-Pros.
And for whatever reason, it appears as though trading up to draft first-round quarterbacks backfires a lot more often than the alternative. Here's a list of quarterbacks teams traded up to select in the first round between 2009 and 2016, via numberFire's JJ Zachariason: Mark Sanchez, Josh Freeman, Tim Tebow, Gabbert, Robert Griffin III, Johnny Manziel, Teddy Bridgewater, Jared Goff, Carson Wentz and Lynch.
So why did the Kansas City Chiefs, who are supposedly a contender after winning the AFC West last season, essentially use a first-round pick, a third-round pick and a 2018 first-round selection on a crapshoot quarterback who isn't expected to make an impact in 2017? They could have done so much more with those selections, potentially even adding players who could have contributed right away.
If Alex Smith holds on to the starting job this season and the Chiefs are again competitive but fall short of the ultimate goal, they'll be left wondering how much better they could have been had they stayed away from a first-round quarterback.
Los Angeles Chargers: Moving to Los Angeles
More immediately, the Los Angeles Chargers might regret giving a four-year, $53 million contract to soon-to-be 30-year-old offensive tackle Russell Okung, who hasn't been an asset to an NFL team since he was a Pro Bowler with the Seattle Seahawks in 2012.
But I get the feeling they'll have regrets with higher stakes and implications regarding the Spanos family's decision to relocate the franchise from San Diego to Los Angeles.
They deserted a large and loyal fanbase for what appear to be purely financial reasons, all so that they can essentially serve as second fiddle to a Rams team that already has roots in that city. I get that the Spanos family wanted to a new stadium in San Diego, but if they couldn't afford to pay for it themselves they should have sold the team instead.
Now, though, they'll likely become the Los Angeles Clippers of the NFL, causing them to wonder what could have been had they not copped out in 2017.
Los Angeles Rams: Hiring a Millennial to Be Their New Head Coach
During the Super Bowl era, five head coaches have been hired before turning 33.
The first four? Lane Kiffin (31) went 5-15 while lasting less than two seasons with the Oakland Raiders, Raheem Morris (32) went 17-31 in three seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, David Shula (32) went 19-52 in four-and-a-half seasons with the Bengals and Josh McDaniels (32) went 11-17 in under two seasons with the Broncos.
Maybe it's the dynamics that come along when a coach is younger than some of his players, or maybe it's just a lack of life and football experience. Regardless, it doesn't work. But that didn't stop the Los Angeles Rams from hiring Sean McVay to be their head coach.
McVay, who was 30 when he was brought on, is the youngest head coach in NFL history. And while it's understandable that teams try to think outside the box in order to get ahead, this is pushing it. McVay has been doing this less than a decade. It's a risky experiment, and one the Rams will probably soon regret.
Miami Dolphins: Neglecting to Upgrade the Interior Offensive Line
This isn't hate-worthy or an egregious oversight, but the Miami Dolphins had a quiet offseason after making the playoffs in 2016. No bones to be picked regarding their early draft picks, and they didn't let any good players get away.
As a result, I'm nitpicking. Interior offensive linemen Kraig Urbik, Anthony Steen, Billy Turner and Jermon Bushrod all struggled last season, and center Mike Pouncey has become a risky player to rely on because of injury issues. But the only offensive lineman with NFL experience they added to the roster in the offseason was Ted Larsen, who is on the wrong side of 30, has been mediocre for much of his career and is on injured reserve with a torn biceps muscle.
It's the thinnest spot on the roster, and if anybody else goes down, the Dolphins will regret not having done more to shore things up inside.
Minnesota Vikings: Giving Riley Reiff a $59M Contract
Matt Kalil's contract expired at the conclusion of the 2016 season, and he wasn't good anyway. So the Minnesota Vikings needed a left tackle. They addressed as much and may get that boost from free-agent pickup Riley Reiff, who is probably better than departed bust Kalil.
The problem is they gave the guy a five-year, $58.8 million deal with $26.3 million guaranteed, making the 28-year-old the third-highest-paid offensive lineman in football in terms of guaranteed money despite the fact he's never been to a Pro Bowl in give years.
It'll be hard for him to live up to expectations under those circumstances. Don't expect it to take long for them to come to that realization.
New England Patriots: Signing Stephon Gilmore Without Trading Malcolm Butler
Another nitpick because the New England Patriots are comfortable on their throne. But it seemed clear the Pats gave veteran cornerback Stephon Gilmore a big contract partly because they were under the impression they'd have a chance to trade incumbent top corner Malcolm Butler.
But they weren't able to work out a trade with the New Orleans Saints despite engaging in discussions, according to ESPN.com's Mike Triplett, and now those poor bastards are stuck with two well-reputed corners. Being a Pats fan must be tough.
But there is a potential downside because Gilmore's five-year, $65 million deal pays him more guaranteed money ($40 million) than all but four NFL corners.
Gilmore has never been elected to a Pro Bowl (he was an injury replacement last year), and he's coming off a so-so season. The very fact he's on the roster at that rate could make it hard for them to give Butler a new deal when he hits free agency next offseason, despite the fact he's a better player. And they certainly could have used that money in order to address weaker spots on the roster for an attempt to become the first NFL team in over a decade to win back-to-back Super Bowls.
New Orleans Saints: Trading Brandin Cooks for a 1st-Round Pick
Ironically, the Patriots could also contribute to the New Orleans Saints' largest regret because those two teams did strike one deal at the start of the new league year. In it, New Orleans dealt star wide receiver Brandin Cooks and a fourth-round pick to the Patriots in exchange for a first- and third-rounder.
I don't get it.
Yes, future Hall of Fame quarterback Drew Brees could make anyone look like a half-decent NFL receiver, but this is still the kind of deal you make when you're rebuilding. And so long as Brees remains on the roster, the Saints had better not be rebuilding.
Cooks is coming off back-to-back 1,100-plus-yard seasons in which he scored 17 combined touchdowns, and he's still only 23. Why trade him for an unproven commodity? It's possible they felt Brees wouldn't miss a beat with Michael Thomas, Brandon Coleman, Ted Ginn and Willie Snead on the roster, but that kind of hubris is dangerous.
If those guys don't deliver or go down, or if offensive tackle Ryan Ramczyk doesn't come through after being selected with that first-round pick, and if the Saints fall short of the playoffs, they'll wonder how things might have played out with Cooks still on the roster in 2017.
New York Giants: Not Signing a Proven Offensive Tackle
Considering that left tackle Ereck Flowers and right tackle Bobby Hart struggled quite a lot in 2016, it was surprising to see the New York Giants stick generally to the status quo at both tackle positions this offseason. The only free-agent offensive lineman they signed, D.J. Fluker, is likely to play guard, and they didn't draft a player at that position before taking Pittsburgh product Adam Bisnowaty in Round 6.
Both Flowers (23) and Hart (22) might still improve, but the Giants are in win-now mode and don't have a lot of room to be patient. They simply have to do a better job protecting their aging quarterback and paving the way for a running game that ranked 30th in football with a 3.5 yards-per-attempt average last season.
And if Flowers and/or Hart can't do that in 2017, the Giants will rue the fact they didn't invest in better options during the offseason.
New York Jets: Not Drafting a Quarterback
It is clear the New York Jets are rebuilding. Some might even prefer to call it tanking. Either way, they're back to the drawing board after gutting the roster in the offseason.
That's why it was so weird that they spent zero of their nine draft picks on quarterbacks, instead adding 38-year-old stopgap Josh McCown to compete with youngsters Christian Hackenberg and Bryce Petty, both of whom have struggled mightily.
There's a strong chance that the team's next franchise quarterback is not on the roster, which is fine because of that whole rebuilding/tanking thing. But at the same time, you have to keep swinging the bat as often as possible.
Rare exceptions notwithstanding, you can't win in this league without possessing a strong quarterback. Twelve of the past 14 Super Bowls have been won by teams led by quarterbacks named Brady, Manning, Roethlisberger, Rodgers or Brees. Yet the Jets haven't selected one in the first round this decade.
If Hackenberg or Petty doesn't emerge this season, New York will second-guess its decision not to bring another signal-caller in this offseason.
Oakland Raiders: Not Giving Derek Carr More Support
To the Oakland Raiders' credit, they did add a talented tight end by signing Jared Cook in free agency, and new receiver/return man Cordarrelle Patterson is a wild card as well. But Michael Crabtree is still slated to start opposite Amari Cooper at wide receiver despite the fact the inconsistent 29-year-old is coming off a year in which he led the league with 13 dropped passes and drew more penalties (10) than any other receiver in football.
Crabtree is one of the most overrated players in the game, and the Raiders didn't bring in anyone who might have had a chance to challenge him in camp. No one knows what they will get from Patterson, Andre Holmes has gone and Cook hasn't exactly been a model of consistency, either.
The Raiders remain in fantastic shape and are a Super Bowl contender, but a lack of weapons not named Cooper could cost them in 2017.
Philadelphia Eagles: Signing Torrey Smith
I'm going to be honest with you: The Philadelphia Eagles have had a great offseason, making things extra hard. I had planned on writing that they'd regret not trading Jordan Matthews or not bringing in much talent at the cornerback position, and then they went out on Friday and traded Matthews for talented young Bills corner Ronald Darby.
That was the icing on the cake for a team that provided sophomore quarterback Carson Wentz with two new wideouts who have 1,000-yard seasons under their belts—Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith—without breaking the bank on long-term contracts, addressed defensive needs with their top three picks in the draft and brought in potential No. 1 back LeGarrette Blount on a cheap deal after the draft.
So I had to reach here as well, but even with Matthews gone, it looks as though Torrey Smith might not be needed. In June, Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer noted that the 28-year-old wasn't "exactly cemented into a starting spot," which makes sense when you consider that the former Raven struggled immensely with the San Francisco 49ers, as well as the fact third-year wideout Nelson Agholor has been generating plenty of buzz this offseason.
The good news is even if the Eagles do wind up regretting signing Smith, he's only due $500,000 in guaranteed money.
It's been a good offseason in Philly.
Pittsburgh Steelers: Not Bringing in a Strong Quarterback
The Pittsburgh Steelers have a strong quarterback, but this offseason might have been the time to add another strong quarterback in case the first one decides in the relatively near future that he's done playing professional football.
It's a distinct possibility. Ben Roethlisberger "seriously" considered retiring this offseason at the age of 35, former teammate Willie Colon told PFT Live. And he didn't confirm that he'd be returning for his 14th NFL season until April, which could indicate he won't be sticking around much longer.
Meanwhile, general manager Kevin Colbert recently admitted to Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that the Steelers "have to be prepared" for anything with regard to Big Ben's future.
If the team doesn't start looking for replacements, it risks having to suffer quarterback growing pains while fellow offensive stars Le'Veon Bell and Antonio Brown are in their primes.
Sure, they drafted Tennessee product Josh Dobbs in the fourth round. But they picked four other players before that, and six quarterbacks went off the board before Dobbs. Had the Steelers selected somebody like DeShone Kizer or Davis Webb a little earlier, they'd have increased their odds of finding their next franchise quarterback.
If Dobbs doesn't pan out and Roethlisberger bails out soon, they might regret that approach.
San Francisco 49ers: Giving $11.5M Guaranteed to Malcolm Smith
Giving $11.5M Guaranteed to Malcolm Smith
Some of these are really freakin' easy.
With a new regime in place, the San Francisco 49ers handed a baffling, five-year, $26.5 million contract with $11.5 million guaranteed to 28-year-old linebacker Malcolm Smith. It wasn't a deal that was likely to pay off regardless of Smith's health because the Super Bowl XLVIII MVP hasn't performed consistently well since that 2013 season.
Smith is a one-dimensional player who can't rush the passer or drop into coverage and is no better than a replacement-level talent when it comes to his "strength," plugging holes in run defense.
And now he can't do anything at all.
That's because the 2011 seventh-round pick is out for the entire 2017 season with a torn pectoral muscle.
The Niners are already wishing they could have that one back.
Seattle Seahawks: Not Investing More in the Offensive Line
Not Investing More in the Offensive Line
Statistically speaking, Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson is coming off the worst season of his career. He wasn't healthy, and he was constantly under pressure, and that's because his offensive line was a mess. Football Outsiders ranked it 25th in terms of pass protection and 26th when it came to paving the way for the running game.
Regulars Garry Gilliam, George Fant, Mark Glowinski and Germain Ifedi were all terrible, but because the Seahawks stayed away from high-profile offensive linemen in free agency and the draft, several of those guys will likely be starting again in 2017. Fant is likely to get the first shot at the left tackle job, while Glowinski and Ifedi are locked in camp battles.
They did sign former No. 2 overall pick Luke Joeckel and 26-year-old guard Oday Aboushi to cheap free-agent deals, but they aren't starting-caliber players. Those two could have to play large roles, though, and the jury is obviously still out on rookie second-round pick Ethan Pocic.
Even if solid center Justin Britt delivers and they get some surprisingly strong seasons from some of the guys mentioned above, the line might struggle as a whole this season. And if that hurts Wilson and Co. again, the Seahawks will be left kicking themselves for the lack of attention they've given that unit this offseason.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Signing J.J. Wilcox
The two-year, $6.3 million deal the Tampa Bay Buccaneers gave safety J.J. Wilcox in March made sense at the time because it appeared the Bucs were basically replacing free-agent safety Bradley McDougald with Wilcox, who has plenty of starting experience coming off a four-year stint in Dallas.
But then you consider that Keith Tandy and Chris Conte are already high-quality options after essentially splitting time at free safety last season (Tandy emerged, and Conte has started 76 games the past six years between Chicago and Tampa). And then you see they used a second-round pick on the physical, explosive and versatile Justin Evans, and you wonder whether there's any room for Wilcox.
If Tandy and Conte secure starting jobs and Evans gets off to a strong start, the Bucs will be giving $3.1 million to their fourth-best safety, which isn't a catastrophe but might be worthy of regret.
Tennessee Titans: Standing Pat with Their 1st-Round Picks
The Tennessee Titans entered the offseason stocked with what folks in the industry like to call draft currency. With two picks in the top 20 (fifth and 18th), a team that looks like it has a chance to compete in franchise quarterback Marcus Mariota's third season could have manipulated the draft board in order to add multiple proven NFL veterans to round out the roster.
So it was a little surprising and disappointing when general Jon Robinson decided instead to sit back and use both of those selections. And while No. 5 overall pick Corey Davis and 18th selection Adoree Jackson are promising players, the crapshoot nature of the draft means the Titans are rolling the dice. Davis has been prone to nagging injuries and has been out most of training camp because of a bad hamstring, while Jackson is still fighting to earn a starting job, per Austin Stanley of A to Z Sports Nashville.
If neither player can make a big impact this year, the Titans might be left wondering what could have been had they leveraged those picks in order to bulk up the roster with players who might have been more prepared to chip in.
Washington Redskins: Everything That Involved Kirk Cousins
On several different occasions, the Washington Redskins have slapped their franchise quarterback in the face. By all indications, the team has low-balled Kirk Cousins with farcical contract offers in back-to-back offseasons, and they even made the most recent offer public via a statement in which it sounded like team president Bruce Allen was calling Cousins "Kurt."
There just hasn't been much love for a quarterback who has led the team to winning records in each of his first two seasons as a regular starter.
During those campaigns, Cousins was the sixth-highest-rated qualified passer in the NFL. In that span, only three quarterbacks passed for more yards than Cousins' 9,083, yet 12 threw more interceptions. And his 7.9 yards-per-attempt average ranks fifth. He led the NFL with a 69.8 completion percentage in 2015 and made the Pro Bowl with the NFL's third-highest yards-per-attempt average (8.1) in 2016. Only Drew Brees had more 20-plus-yard completions last year, while nobody completed more 50-plus-yard passes.
He's simply good, and good quarterbacks are extremely hard to find. If the Redskins let him get away—either because they've sabotaged the relationship or they're underrating him—they'll undoubtedly regret that.