The NFL Teams That Had the Best and Worst Offseasons

By Akiva Wienerkur   May 12, 2021 

The NFL Teams That Had the Best and Worst Offseasons

In a league like the NFL in which a team like the Tampa Bay Buccaneers can go from perennial doormat to Super Bowl champion on the strength of a great offseason, even the worst teams in the league enter free agency and prepare for the draft dreaming of making enough right moves to contend.

This year, high profile quarterbacks were traded and a handful were drafted in the first round. Contending teams like the Kansas City Chiefs addressed a major weakness by beefing up their offensive line, and the Cleveland Browns shored up their problematic defense.

We’ll look at three teams below that had great offseasons and three more that had forgettable ones, all sure to heavily impact NFL futures odds for the upcoming season.

BEST – Bucs, Patriots, and Chiefs

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: It’s hard to be anything but complimentary when a Super Bowl champion retains all 22 of its starters. Tampa also added depth in the running game by bringing in veteran Giovanni Bernard. Bernard, a former Bengal, is an excellent receiver out of the backfield. He had 47 catches last season and has caught 40 or more passes in five of his eight seasons as a pro. Tom Brady had another All-Pro season last year, but as he continues to age and his arm strength theoretically lessens, having more receivers who can catch checkdowns or dump-offs like Bernard is key.

The Bucs also will have a full season of receiver Antonio Brown. Brown was a late addition to the Bucs last season and only played in eight games, but he caught 45 passes in those eight games, so over the course of a full season, he could once again approach the All-Pro numbers he was putting up in Pittsburgh.

Former Cincinnati Bengals running back Giovanni Bernard (25) runs the ball past Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Artie Burns (25) during the second half at Heinz Field in 2016. Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports

New England Patriots: The Patriots snagging a quarterback of the future in the first round of the draft without having to trade future assets to move up is in and of itself a reason to celebrate the offseason. The team finally has an heir apparent to Tom Brady with the selection of Mac Jones. The Patriots still have veteran Cam Newton in the fold as well, so there’s no need to rush Jones into action before he’s ready.

Whoever starts, though, will be playing for a team with a lot more firepower. In fact, New England set a record for guaranteed money paid out in free agency. Their haul includes tight ends Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith, and receivers Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne. They also added three new defensive starters in free agency and had a great draft. They’ll miss retired receiver Julian Edelman, but overall, New England should make its hiatus from the playoffs last season a brief one.

Kansas City Chiefs: Kansas City’s weak offensive line got exposed in the Super Bowl against Brady’s Buccaneers. The Chiefs couldn’t keep star quarterback Patrick Mahomes upright, and he spent much of the game under constant pressure, running dozens of yards backwards just to get space to get passes off, and Kansas City’s speed at the skill positions was neutralized.

The Chiefs are championship-caliber at most positions on offense and defense, and they went about making their offensive line reflect that as well. They brought from Bears star tackle Kyle Long out of a brief retirement, signed former Patriots guard Joe Thuney, traded a first-round pick for tackle Orlando Brown, and used two of their six draft picks on offensive linemen, including taking Creed Humphrey in the second round.

Loading up on offensive lineman isn’t exactly a sexy offseason, but for a Chiefs team that is exciting at virtually every spot on the field, dull is very good in this case.

WORST – Texans, Packers, and Titans

Houston Texans: The Texans went from trying to handle star quarterback Deshaun Watson’s trade demand to handling the fallout from multiple accusations of sexual or civil assault.

Everything else pales in comparison to the real-life issues Watson is accused of, but that’s not the only dark cloud hanging over the team. Executive Jack Easterby has been a divisive – but powerful – force in the organization. The team bungled its general manager and coaching searches, and J.J. Watt, a cornerstone of the franchise and maybe the greatest player in team history, requested his release and signed with Arizona.

On the field, the Texans still have talent if Watson stays around. But it’s hard to imagine any team managing all of those distractions well.

Green Bay Packers: Speaking of unhappy quarterback situations, the Packers continued their offseason tradition of making their star quarterback unhappy.

Rodgers reportedly asked to be traded just before the draft, and there were also reported that he was not willing to play for the team again if Brian Gutekunst remained as GM. Oh, and Gutekunst himself said that Jordan Love, the quarterback he inexplicably used a first-round pick on last season, has a “ways to go” in his development. The Love pick irritated Rodgers, who preferred an offensive weapon. Then, the team used its 2021 first rounder on a defensive back and its second rounder on a center, so Green Bay’s skill positions won’t be getting younger this year.

Rodgers still could play for Green Bay this season, but it’s clear he probably won’t be there beyond this season.

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) walks off the field fter the Green Bay Packers 31-26 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the NFC Championship playoff game Sunday, Jan. 24, 2021 at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis. – Photo by Mike De Sisti / Milwaukee Journal Sentinel via USA TODAY NETWORK

Tennessee Titans: The Titans lost four starters on defense in the offseason, but they already had a pretty bad defense. The real problem for them is on offense.

Offensive coordinator Arthur Smith left to take the head coaching job in Atlanta. Smith played a key role in reviving the career of Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who was given up on by Miami and signed by the Titans as a backup before he supplanted then-starter Marcus Mariota and led Tennessee on an impressive two-year run that included two playoff appearances. The biggest question for the team is whether Tannehill can replicate that success, and do so without two big weapons from the passing game. Receiver Corey Davis and tight end Jonnu Smith both left in free agency, with no clear replacements for their production in the passing game.

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