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The 2021 NFL offseason has been filled with big moves, but some of them haven’t made much sense at all. Here’s a look at all 32 teams’ most head-scratching move this offseason.
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Even after losing Larry Fitzgerald, it didn’t seem like wide receiver was high on Arizona’s list of needs. Yet, they signed Green a one-year, $8 million deal and then selected explosive wideout Rondale Moore early in the draft. The Green addition is more befuddling after he missed much of 2018 and 2019 to injuries, and struggled with Cincinnati last season.
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Atlanta fans may have not enjoyed seeing the franchise deal away Julio Jones, but the Falcons had major offseason cap issues, and desperately needed help in several areas of the defense. Still, they spent $3 million on Patterson, who is the furthest thing from a replacement. He remains a valuable special teams player, but it’s hard to believe that money couldn’t have been put to better use.
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Wolfe is coming off a down year, recording only one sack in 14 games with the Ravens. However, that didn’t stop Baltimore from giving the veteran a three-year extension heading into his age 31 season. It’s a risky move for what’s been an inconsistent player in recent years.
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The Bills released John Brown and effectively replaced him with Sanders. The veteran was very inconsistent last year at age 33 in New Orleans, recording 61 catches in 14 games and failing to take much of a step forward when Michael Thomas was injured. The Bills aren’t asking much of Sanders as their likely No. 4 wideout, but it remains to be seen if he will be able to really help.
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The Panthers were disappointed by the production of Teddy Bridgewater last season, but it’s unclear if Darnold is actually an improvement. He struggled in three seasons with the Jets, and Carolina opted to acquire him for three draft picks, including a second rounder in 2022. More significant could be the opportunity cost, as the Panthers could have drafted Justin Fields with the eighth overall pick instead.
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Chicago released long-time cornerback Kyle Fuller after a sub-par season, and added Trufant as a possible replacement. That’s a huge risk considering Trufant has struggled with injuries over the last two seasons and played poorly last year in Detroit when he was healthy.
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Cincinnati made signings in the secondary last year that didn’t work out, and they run the risk of doing so again after adding Awuzie on a three-year deal. His play has been very inconsistent with the Cowboys over his first four seasons, and he played only eight games in 2020.
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The Browns needed pass rush help, and took fliers on Jadeveon Clowney and McKinley to address that area. Both signings are risky, and the $4 million the Browns gave McKinley is particularly head scratching. The former Falcons first-round pick has seen his career decline over the last two seasons, and he played only four games last year due to injury. It’s a significant price for a flier.
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Dallas desperately needed defensive help after their disastrous 2020 season, but Neal seems more like a big name than a productive player at this point in his career. He played a combined four games in 2018-2019 due to injuries and even last year when he was able to stay healthy for most of the season, Neal made few impact plays for the Falcons. The $5 million price isn’t cheap at the safety position, and he probably won’t have the greatest impact for the Cowboys.
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Denver had a mostly solid offseason, but spending big to retain Harris was eye opening. Harris received a three-year, $27 million contract with $15 million guaranteed, a massive sum for a player who appeared in only 11 games with 2.5 sacks last season and will be entering his age 30 season. The Broncos defense looks fearsome in 2021, but the resources might have been better spent on their quarterback and offensive line issues.
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Stafford has been Detroit’s franchise player since he was drafted first overall in 2009. Only one Pro Bowl over that time might be a disappointment, but Stafford has been no worse than a second tier quarterback when healthy and is still just entering his age 33 season. Quarterbacks of Stafford’s ability aren’t easy to find, but the Lions opted for yet another rebuild instead, getting Jared Goff and two first rounders from the Rams. Lions fans deserve better than what looks like another hopeless season ahead.
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Aaron Rodgers has been begging for more weapons over the last several years, but the team maintained status quo on offense, bringing back Aaron Jones and Lewis. A solid blocker, Lewis has a total of 28 receptions over the last three seasons and is creeping up in age as he enters his age 37 season. As such, a two-year, $8 million contract seems like a massive price for an in decline backup tight end.
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The Texans didn’t have much money or draft capital to work with in what was a nightmarish offseason headlined by the Deshaun Watson off-field issues. Their few significant personnel moves were also poor, led by the signing of Ingram for $3 million. Perhaps he gives the team a veteran leader, but Ingram could enter the year as the third running back behind David Johnson and Phillip Lindsay. With all of Houston’s needs, there’s no doubt they could have done more with the money.
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It was another strong offseason for GM Chris Ballard, but he took a huge gamble by acquiring Wentz from the Eagles. The former first-round pick has struggled to stay healthy, and fell out of favor with the Philadelphia organization. His play also went well downhill in Philly. The cost certainly wasn’t outlandish with a 2021 third-round pick and 2022 second rounder that could become a first-round pick, but this is a roster ripe for success that could have used more stability than what Wentz has offered recently.
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Head coach Urban Meyer admitted that the Jaguars were targeting Florida wide receiver Kadarius Toney with the 25th overall pick. After he was taken 20th overall by the Giants, the Jags selected Etienne instead. A speedy and productive runner at Clemson, Etienne had a disappointing final season for the Tigers, and he plays a position the Jaguars didn’t need after James Robinson’s rookie breakout and the offseason addition of Carlos Hyde.
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Remmers did a nice job replacing the injured Mitchell Schwartz at right tackle last season, but was completely out of place as the left tackle in the Super Bowl. The Chiefs re-signed Remmers to an incentive-laden one-year deal before a rush of other offensive line moves that included adding Joe Thuney, Kyle Long, Orlando Brown, Austin Blythe, and draftees Creed Humphrey and Trey Smith. With the return of 2021 optouts Laurent Durvernay-Tardif and Lucas Niang, it’s unclear how Remmers fits and the team could have used the money on another wideout.
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The Jon Gruden era has included odd personnel moves, and the team made their fair share this year as well. The offensive line is clearly downgraded after trading Rodney Hudson and Trent Brown, arguably the two best linemen on the team. Then the Raiders used the 17th overall draft choice on Leatherwood, who would have likely lasted until the team’s second-round pick. Hopefully Leatherwood makes the Raiders look smart for getting their guy, but Las Vegas could have addressed other needs with the pick.
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The Chargers opted to spend money on their offensive line instead of bringing back tight end Hunter Henry, which was a smart move. To replace Henry, the team added Cook on a one-year deal. Cook was a valuable Red Zone receiver for the Saints last year, but he clearly declined with only 37 catches and 504 yards in 15 games. At $4.5 million guaranteed, Cook isn’t an excessive investment, but perhaps one that the team could have used on more wideout depth.
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The Rams were missing their deep threat last year after trading Brandin Cooks, but relying on Jackson probably isn’t the answer. The veteran is entering his age 35 season and has played a combined eight games over the last two years. Second-round pick Tutu Atwell looks much more likely to fill that role.
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The Dolphins cut bait on Van Noy despite signing him to a huge four-year $51 million contract last offseason. He had a fine year with six sacks and 69 tackles in 14 games, but the Dolphins felt the nearly $10 million against the cap that they would save by cutting the veteran would be more valuable. We have to ask why the team signed Van Noy to such a big contract in the first place.
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Peterson was terribly inconsistent over the last two seasons in Arizona, and the franchise finally moved on after 10 seasons. Minnesota desperately needed help at cornerback after struggles from their young corners last season, but $10 million for one year is a big commitment for a player who is clearly on the downside of his career.
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Newton really struggled as New England’s starter last season, so it was surprising that the team gave him $5 million plus incentives to stick around. It’s intriguing to see what Newton can do with the receiver help that the Patriots added this offseason, but he’s now just a placeholder for first-round pick Mac Jones.
The Saints had major cap issues in the offseason, and were unable to bring back highly productive pass rusher Trey Hendrickson. They had a need going into the draft, but taking Turner with their first-round pick might have been putting need over value. Turner has the size and athleticism to succeed at defensive end, but had only 9.5 sacks in four seasons at University of Houston.
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The Giants have done a nice job remaking their secondary over the last two years, but they’re taking on a huge risk with Jackson. The former Titan has struggled to stay healthy over the last two years, including only three games played last season, but he was guaranteed $26.5 million on a three-year deal from the Giants.
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The Jets made their defensive line a team strength by adding Rankins and Carl Lawson to already in-house young stud Quinnen Williams. Still, they’re taking a big risk with Rankins. He hasn’t been the same player over the last two years due to injuries and yet he still received a two-year, $17 million contract from New York.
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Harris was franchised by Minnesota after a career year in 2019, only to struggle last season. He will already turn 30 in October, and probably isn’t the cure to Philadelphia’s significant troubles in the secondary after receiving a $5 million contract.
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Nelson was a cap casualty after two strong seasons in Pittsburgh, freeing up over $8 million. It was a tough decision that the Steelers needing to make with massive cap issues, but their secondary will undoubtedly be worse next season after losing Nelson and Mike Hilton.
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The 49ers were seemingly bidding against themselves again to retain Juszczyk to a five-year, $27 million contract. He remains the gold standard at the fullback position, but the skillset is also easily replaceable in today’s NFL.
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Seattle has been known to take on players with character concerns, and shortly after Smith signed, he was arrested for second degree battery. It’s the latest of several run-ins with the law for Smith, and potentially a distraction for the Seahawks. After losing Jarran Reed, the Seahawks needed pass rush help, but its an open question on whether Smith will be able to provide it.
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The Bucs deserve kudos for bringing back most of their Super Bowl squad, but it doesn’t come without risks. Barrett signed a massive four-year, $72 million contract, but he regressed to eight sacks last year from 19.5 sacks in 2019 and turns 29 in November. With Bruce Arians and Tom Brady at the helm, it’s clear why the Bucs spent so much to keep Barrett around, but they will likely regret this deal on the backend.
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Before adding Julio Jones to the mix, the Titans lost wideouts Corey Davis and Adam Humphries, as well as tight end Jonnu Smith. Reynolds was one of their only early efforts to replace that trio, and it remains to be seen if he can actually help. He had a career-high 52 catches for 618 yards with the Rams last year after being given a much bigger opportunity, and didn’t seem to have a big market in the offseason.
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Washington needed help on their offensive line, particularly at left tackle, but their efforts to protect Ryan Fitzpatrick’s blindside are risky. Leno has experience but is hardly a top tier left tackle, and the fallback option is second-round pick Sam Cosmi.