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The NFL’s Best Off-Seasons of 2020

Who had the best off-season in the NFL ahead of the 2020 season? It’s a fair question on its own, but even more so after we laid into the worst of the worst in our previous installment. That list included two members of the NFC North and one AFC South representative. This time around, three divisions are represented and we still span both conferences.

2020’s Best NFL Off-Seasons

3. Buffalo Bills

The Buffalo Bills, who went 10-6, had by far the best 2019 of any of the teams mentioned here. But that in and of itself was a surprise so the efforts made by the front office to make it a regular occurrence is encouraging. It doesn’t hurt they made one of the biggest moves of the offseason and followed our theme of surrounding your young passer with targets.

Maybe it doesn’t really qualify as a free agent acquisition, trading for Stefon Diggs was big time. Their package that included only one pick in the first round is good value; only outdone by the Cardinals nabbing Hopkins. Head coach Sean McDermott didn’t just give his quarterback someone to lean on. He brought in a number of his former Panthers players to further his defense.

In the draft, Buffalo surprised many by going with A.J. Espenesa but they needed a power end who could set the edge. The real smart pick was Zack Moss to pair with Devin Singletary. The diminutive pair should make for a nice crutch for Josh Allen and the passing game. Getting Gabriel Davis in the fourth was also a nice steal.

Buffalo has a path to owning the AFC East now that the Patriots as we know them are no more. But with the Dolphins fast-tracking their rebuild and the Jets still growing around Sam Darnold, it won’t be easy. It appears the front office recognizes this and has set out to ensure they are the next perennial winners of the division.

2. Denver Broncos

Offensive weapons are the name of the game in today’s NFL and in this article. The Denver Broncos off-season has been a terrific example of how to go about stockpiling them. They already have their franchise quarterback and a 1,000-yard receiver and running back in the trio of Drew Lock, Courtland Sutton, and Phillip Lindsay. That didn’t stop them.

Free agency saw the Broncos lose Ronald Leary, Connor McGovern, Chris Harris, and Derek Wolfe (all starters) but replace all four. And in a surprising case of the rich getting richer, they also managed to lure Melvin Gordon over after the division-rival Los Angeles Chargers let him walk. Gordon and Lindsay are the best 1-2 running back combo in the league.

Sometimes the draft just falls in your favor. That happened when Lock fell to Denver a year ago and it happened again in this draft. Jerry Jeudy was in the conversation to be the first wide receiver taken and even a top-five pick. So his falling to 15 is almost inconceivable. Add to that landing KJ Hamler in the second round and you see why Lock was quoted saying the Broncos “…got some stallions”.

Denver went 7-9 with lock going 4-1 completing 64 percent of his passes for 1,020 yards, seven touchdowns, and three picks. That is impressive for a player thought to be too raw to start as a rookie. With a year under his belt and an improved supporting cast, Lock is poised to breakout. It’s too soon to be talking dark-horse MVP candidate, but Offensive Player of the Year, maybe?

1. Arizona Cardinals

An off-season in which a team nabs a versatile, top-tier talent in the draft after stealing arguably the best wide receiver in the league absolutely has to make any list of best off-seasons. When that team’s other moves highlight their desire to improve their porous defense, like the Arizona Cardinals, they have a good shot at “winning” the off-season.

Free agency was too kind to the Cards. DeAndre Hopkins is third in receptions and yards and is second in touchdowns since he entered the league in 2013. All it took to land him was David Johnson’s bloated deal and a mid-round pick. The Houston Texans made the bad version for this list largely on this trade. Adding De’Vondre Campbell, Jordan Phillips, and Devon Kennard should make Chandler Jones happy.

The reinforcement of the defense didn’t stop in free agency, either. Arizona took Isaiah Simmons of Clemson with the eighth overall pick. The versatile defender will play linebacker to start but expect him to line up all over the field in just as he did in college. Getting Houston tackle Josh Jones in the third round is a boon.

If there is one knock on what the Cardinals did it has to be they didn’t add more talent to the offensive line. Adding Jones and free-agent addition Marcus Gilbert is nice, but Kyler Murray took 48 sacks last season. That number will come down as he learns to get rid of the ball quicker or pull it down and run sooner. But the offensive line was not good in 2019. Will it improve in 2020?

Best Off-Seasons of 2020 in the NFL

This was not meant to be a slight to the other teams that had really strong off-seasons. The Dallas Cowboys, Carolina Panthers, and  Baltimore Ravens all had great off-seasons as well. But Dallas and Carolina lost Travis Frederick and Luke Kuechly, no small blows, and Baltimore was 14-2 last season. It’s hard to see them winning more games in 2020.

Free Agency Best and Worst: AFC South

Our fifth stop on our tour squaring the best and worst moves in NFL free agency, the AFC South. We’ve already gone through both the AFC and NFC North. Likewise for the AFC and NFC East. The AFC South was arguably the toughest division in football just a couple of seasons ago. Now, it is a division mostly in transition but one that should still be a dog fight.

Best and Worst of NFL Free Agency: AFC South

Houston Texans

Best Move: None

Yea. This isn’t a cop-out or laziness. The Houston Texans have had one of the weirdest offseasons in recent memory. After giving away arguably the best wide receiver in the game, Houston (led by head coach and general manager Bill O’Brien) did well just to not trade away the franchise in Deshaun Watson, though it’s hard to believe they’re building trust either.

There does appear to be a method to the madness or at least a strategy for navigating what is sure to be an adjustment period for Watson. They added Brandin Cooks and Randall Cobb to a group that will still return Kenny Stills, Will Fuller, and Keke Coutee. Fuller and Coutee have struggled to stay healthy (as has Cooks) and Stills has always been a complementary option.

Worst Move: Swapping Receivers

This is a little bit of piggybacking. Taking on David Johnson’s contract certainly qualifies. But this deserves its own section. Let’s go to the tape: Hopkins is a three-time All-Pro, four-time Pro Bowler, and has 315 catches for 4115 yards with 31 touchdowns over the last three seasons. Cooks has none of the accolades and caught 187 balls for 2869 yards and 14 scores.

Production on the field is dependant upon being on the field; something Cooks has struggled with. Nuk has missed all of two games in one more NFL season than Cooks, who has missed time with numerous injuries, not the least of which being multiple concussions. Aside from a change philosophically (and an out in Cooks’ contract in 2021), the benefits are hard to find.

Next Move: Protect the Franchise

Watson is second in the NFL in sacks taken over the last three seasons, trailing only Russell Wilson. This is especially notable because the former Clemson Tiger missed more than half of his rookie season with a torn ACL and is only in second place by 17 sacks. He even led the league in the category in 2018.

When the Texans traded for Laremy Tunsil, the seemed to be moving towards correcting a fatal flaw. Trading away Watson’s top weapon isn’t doing any favors and Tunsil wound up leading the NFL in penalties. Houston still needs an infusion of talent and should look to do so in a draft rife with interior line talent. For what it’s worth, it’s also full of talented wide receivers.

Indianapolis Colts

Best Move: Old Man Rivers

Any time a team adds a Hall of Fame quarterback to their roster it has to set the bar for grading their free-agent class. The Indianapolis Colts courting and subsequent signing of Philip Rivers is no different. They tried to make do with Jacoby Brissett following Andrew Luck’s abrupt retirement, even giving the former New England Patriot a short extension.

Brissett is no Luck and he isn’t Rivers either so the upgrade is obvious. It is a shift in philosophies for Indy and head coach Frank Reich. They have largely been a ball-control offense, playing at their pace and fielding a solid defense. Rivers is the definition of a gunslinger and a talkative one at that. It will be interesting to watch this marriage in 2020.

Worst Move: Missing Out on Diggs

In stark contrast to their division mates in Texas, it is rather difficult to find a flaw in the offseason the Colts have had. They got a new field general, kept their offensive line together, and traded for a solidifying presence along their defensive line. The one thing they “failed” (quotes because it’s subjective) to do is give Rivers ample weapons as he enjoyed with the Los Angeles Chargers.

Stefon Diggs would have made a perfect option. His versatility would have allowed him to be the short-area weapon a la Keenan Allen but he is also explosive enough to be the downfield threat that Mike Williams was. Instead, Rivers will lean on T.Y. Hilton who dealt with injuries last season and is somehow already 30 years old. There weren’t many misses for Indy but this opportunity might be one.

Next Move: Find Another Corner

Indy signed former Minnesota Vikings corner Xavier Rhodes in free agency to replace the departed Pierre Desir alongside Rock Ya-Sin and Kenny Moore. The problem is Rhodes, who will be 30 when the season starts, allowed opposing quarterbacks to complete over 80 percent of their passes in his direction.

Minnesota’s defense was once among the best in the game but they have slipped of late, falling from third in passing yards allowed in 2018 to 15th  in 2019. Indy finished the season ranked 23rd so expecting Rhodes to be a stabilizing presence is probably a stretch at best and a recipe for disaster at worst.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Best Move: Moving Foles

When the Jacksonville Jaguars signed Nick Foles to a four-year, $88 million contract the thought was they overpaid for an average quarterback who had a magical run. After one season and Gardner Minshew, that thought has largely remained the same. What has changed is who will be paying Foles going forward.

Jacksonville managed to extract a draft pick from the Chicago Bears for the journeyman quarterback, reuniting him a veritable who’s who of his former coaches including John DeFilippo who was the Jags offensive coordinator last season. Kudos to general manager David Caldwell for actually getting something for Foles, let alone a fairly valuable mid-round pick.

Worst Move: Sticking with Marrone

Making coaching changes for the sake of changing coaches is never the way to go. But the fact of the matter is coaches have been fired who have accomplished much more than Doug Marrone has. Our first section dedicated to a coach, this is not advocating for anyone to lose their job. But when assessing offseasons, it’s fair to question if Jacksonville should’ve moved on.

Marrone is 21-27 in three full seasons down in Duval. This is on-brand for him; he went 15-17 in his two seasons at the helm for the Buffalo Bills. Jacksonville ranked 31st and 26th in points the past two seasons and his once stout defense has been parted out because of cap and culture issues. Loyalty to Marrone could keep the Jaguars in neutral in 2020.

Next Move: Replenish the Cupboard

With 12 selections in the 2020 NFL Draft and a team seemingly stuck in place, Jacksonville needs to get back to what got them the buzz they had a couple of seasons ago. They have to get some talent back on the roster, namely on that defense. And to be even more specific they need to get their secondary at least close to what it was when Jalen Ramsey was still in town.

Jacksonville brought in Rashaan Melvin to replace the departed A.J. Bouye who bolted for the Denver Broncos. That is really a lateral move and not a particularly good one. This draft has got some talent at the top at the position so it would be wise for Caldwell and Co. to get back to what got them to this point.

Tennessee Titans

Best Move: Not Overcommitting to Henry

The sentiment around paying top dollar for a running back (giving them a second contract) is well documented. You’d be hard-pressed to find someone who would say that’s a good idea. So the Tennessee Titans slapping the franchise tag on Derrick Henry almost makes too much sense. After all, his 300 carries, 1500 yards, and 16 scores all led the league. He’s still a runningback.

Christian McCaffrey just finagled the Carolina Panthers for a record-setting contract. Yes, he became the first player to have 2500 yards rushing and receiving in his first three years, that hasn’t helped the Panthers win much. Tennessee rode Henry’s legs far more than their quarterback’s arm. But they still had the wherewithal to not overpay for diminishing returns.

Worst Move: Overcommitting to Tannehill

No one can deny the impact switching from Marcus Mariota to Ryan Tannehill had on the Titans. For example, Henry averaged 3.68 yards per tote with Mariota under. That number jumped to 5.92 with Tannehill, no small feat. Tennessee looked beyond his raw stats and rewarded him with a lucrative, averaging just under $30 million per year.

If Tennessee had looked at Tannehill’s raw stats, at least those from Miami, they might not have been so generous. First, he dealt with injuries in his last three years, an issue Tennessee had with Mariota. But his career even before then could be described as mediocre with even his best of seasons leading to a .500 record. The Titans get great marks for their handling of Henry. Not so much with Tannehill.

Next Move: Repeat Success

This section was close to suggesting Tennessee go hunting for their next franchise passer; sort of a Brett FavreAaron Rodgers situation. Instead, in much broader terms, they need to recapture their 2019 magic. That won’t be easy despite the simplistic appearance of their attack.

Henry isn’t likely to have the stretch he had from Week 7 on and the returns on backs who had 300-plus touches the season before is also ugly (take note, Panthers fans). Teams are going to focus on putting more on Tannehill’s plate. He had flashes of being able to answer the call last season, but consistency hasn’t been his forte. Titans fans better hope that has changed.

Free Agency Best and Worst: AFC East

We are two divisions into our breakdowns of the best, worst, and next moves for teams in free agency. The AFC North was first with the Baltimore Ravens and Cleveland Browns being most active. After that was the NFC North where the Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers both got back to old ways but to differing ends.

In this installment, we’ll look at the AFC East. It’s a division that has seen much upheaval in the past 18 months and the offseason has so far been more of the same. With one team looking like it’s on its way down, another appears poised to take the mantle of division bully. The division’s other two residents are just trying to find their way through the early rebuilding stages.

Free Agency Best and Worst: AFC East

Buffalo Bills

Best Move: Acquiring a WR1

This one might get a few sideways looks. Some might take issue with designating Stefon Diggs as a true number one wide receiver. But for the price the Buffalo Bills paid to the Minnesota Vikings (1st, 5th, and 6th round in 2020, 4th round in 2021), they better hope he delivers like one. After back-to-back 1000-yard seasons (compared to Buffalo’s first since 2015) he should.

Trepidation over anointing Diggs as a number one receiver is understandable. After all, he was second on his team in receiving yards in 2018 and 2017 to Adam Thielen. An injury to the latter allowed Diggs to operate as the top option for a team that was much more run-oriented than the prior season. At 17.9 yards per reception (t-4th in the NFL), he at least brings the big play.

Worst Move: Losing 43% of Sack Total

That is a staggering number for a team that ranked 12th in sacks. The total (19 sacks) didn’t all come from one player. Instead, it was a group effort that included four players: defensive tackle Jordan Phillips (9.5), EDGE Shaq Lawson (6.5), linebacker Lorenzo Alexander (2), and defensive tackle Corey Liuget (1).

They brought in a trio of players (EDGE Mario Addison, DT Vernon Butler, and DE Quinton Jefferson) to make up the difference. Addison (9.5) has 29.5 sacks the last three seasons but was a part-timer before then and is already 32. Bulter’s six sacks are also nice but their draw is familiarity with head coach Sean McDermott. Luckily they only have to replace one starter.

Next Move: Upgrade the Offensive Line

Let’s say the Bills are set at left tackle with Dion Dawkins, who graded the highest out the offensive linemen. Every other spot should be up for grabs. Center Mitch Morse and Quinton Spain (who just re-signed this offseason) seem next closest to locks. But after that, guard Jon Feliciano and tackle Cody Ford could lose their starting spots.

In fact, Buffalo has already made an attempt on that front with the addition of Daryl Williams, another former Carolina Panthers player. His arrival might seem like a blow to Ford, but it might be a bigger signal that Feliciano (28 years old and in a contract year) is on the block. Spain and Williams have never been anything special but Buffalo is banking on the sum being greater than its parts.

Miami Dolphins

Best Move: Locking Down the Corners

Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores is a Bill Belichick disciple. He’s just one season removed from coaching linebackers for the New England Patriots. It is the emphasis on the cornerback position that earns the nod for best move thought. With former Dallas Cowboys corner Byron Jones in tow, the Dolphins boast one of, if not the top duo in the NFL.

Pairing Jones (52.8 percent completion allowed over the last two years) with Xavien Howard is borderline overdoing it considering their division. Howard is coming off of a down campaign and potentially facing discipline stemming from a domestic battery arrest this offseason. So Jones is both a partner and an insurance policy. A very expensive insurance policy.

Worst Move: Paying Kyle Van Noy

‘Questionable’ might be a more appropriate description for this one. Kyle Van Noy is cashing in on a successful three-and-a-half-year stint with the Patriots and heading to South Beach to be reunited with Flores. Part of a complete overhaul of the defense, the signing can go one of two distinct ways and that’s why it’s not a full-blown bad move.

Jamie Collins was traded to the Cleveland Browns midway through the 2016 season. His first full season he missed 10 games with a torn MCL. Year two in Cleveland wasn’t bad, he recorded 104 total tackles with 73 solo stops. But he returned to New England in 2019 and traded some tackles (58 solo) for sacks (seven). Injury aside, Van Noy’s signing could be a boon or an overpayment for mediocrity.

Next Move: Offensive Investments

Seven of their 10 free agency moves (signings and re-signings) were on the defensive side. For an offense that was 25th in scoring and 27th in yards, that has to change and fast. Multiple mock drafts have them trading up for Tua Tagovailoa or even Joe Burrow. It’s unlikely, but with Ryan Fitzpatrick returning they have to address the future beyond Josh Rosen. Right?

The offense needs several infusions of talent, not just at quarterback. The signed former Bears and Philadelphia Eagles running back Jordan Howard. He instantly slots in as their best back, but they’re thin behind him. The same goes for wide receiver where they need of playmakers behind DeVante Parker and Preston Williams, who is coming off a torn ACL.

New England Patriots

Best Move: Embracing the Rebuild

One of the lasting traits of the Belichick era in New England has been the propensity to move on from players a year too soon rather than a year too late. Well, after two decades in the Northeast, quarterback Tom Brady has headed for warmer weather. That puts the Pats into a certain level of rebuilding. It remains to be seen what that level is, however. The quarterback room is less-talented with Jarrett Stidham, Brian Hoyer, and Cody Kessler.

That very uncertainty is exactly why the Patriots and Belichick should be commended. It would have been easy for The Hoodie to fight to keep Brady around or even walk away as his quarterback left town. Instead, he is undoubtedly going to embrace this opportunity to prove that it was he, not Brady, that was mostly responsible for their unprecedented run the last 20 years.

Worst Move: Not Having Next QB1

It isn’t often the Patriots get caught with their pants down in terms of being ill-prepared. But that seems to be exactly the case now with Brady in the NFC and their best replacements being a second-year pro or a journeyman. Now, Belichick won 10 games with Matt Cassell filling in back in 2008. So maybe his faith in Stidham will pay off again.

That hasn’t stopped speculation from mounting about some of the available veteran options. Andy Dalton and Cam Newton have both been mentioned frequently and present reclamation projects that would further Belichick’s legend. Or he could take a passer that falls or trade up to take one. We just don’t know at this point. It’s pretty much business as usual for the Patriots.

Next Move: More Offensive Firepower

Some have speculated that New England will effectively tank this season in hopes of being in the position to draft Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence next year. The biggest issue with that is it dismisses the ego of Belichick. It’s almost unfathomable to think he’d waste a year at all let alone a chance to prove it was him all along, not the quarterback.

Regardless of who is under center this season or next, the Patriots need to give him a better arsenal than Brady had in 2019. They long got by with what many considered a bunch of misfits that Brady made look good. Well, we saw last season those misfits were better than they were given credit for. New England better load up or they won’t have to try to tank.

New York Jets

Best Move: Attempting to Fix O-Line

There should be a caveat on this one. Or at least most of the emphasis should be on the ‘attempting’ part. The New York Jets had the 30th ranked pass-blocking unit and the 31st run-blocking group. The names they added don’t necessarily instill confidence that they have actually solved it though.

Outside of Connor McGovern, none of the other signees (Josh Andrews, George Fant, Greg Van Roten) or the re-signee (Alex Lewis) received good marks from Pro Football Focus. Obviously, they aren’t the be-all-end-all, but some teams do use it so it holds some weight. The Jets threw bodies at the position. We’ll see if they’re finished doing so.

Worst Move: Disarming Darnold

When the Jets let Robby Anderson leave via free agency to the Carolina Panthers, they lost their second-most receiving yards and third-most receptions from 2019. He was far from a complete player, but Carolina didn’t really pay him like one. A failure to address his loss will put the focus on some of the other questionable moves by this regime already.

New York will have Jamison Crowder and Chris Herndon back but neither has the field-stretching ability that Anderson Brings. But that could very well change with them holding the 11th overall pick. Still, it’s fair to wonder if keeping Anderson around was worth it for the development of quarterback Sam Darnold who will now have to build a rapport with someone new.

Next Move: Build Talent

It’s going to be tempting for the Jets to start believing that they have a shot at making the playoffs. The Patriots are the most vulnerable they’ve been since 1999, Miami is rebuilding, and while Buffalo made the postseason last year, they aren’t so far ahead of the rest of the division. New York might want to consider trading down to acquire more picks.

This is the alternative to simply taking the best player available; which would also be valid for the Jets. They just need so much that the better use of, at least, the first of their eight current picks is to get their hands on as much draft capital as possible. In addition to the receiver and offensive line, they need help in the secondary and with the pass-rush.

Free Agency Best and Worst: NFC North

Free agency opened in the NFL with the legal tampering period and the deals came in furiously. Most teams had a pretty clear idea of who they wanted and at what price. Of course, not all activity is created equal. Some of the teams did very well on paper. Others, however, were not so fortunate.

So who’s who? Well, that is the fun part. Adding talent isn’t a shoo-in way to a passing mark. Some teams would have been better off embracing the chance to rebuild and others passed on the chance at that one difference-maker. Others still seemed to be operating in a different world.

Last time, we went over the AFC North. This time we shift our focus to their NFC counterpart…

Best and Worst From the NFC North Free Agency

Chicago Bears

Best Move: Finding Another Pass Rusher

After quarterback, Chicago Bears general manager Ryan Pace has had one other glaring weakness in putting together this roster. That is finding a proper compliment to stud pass-rusher Khalil Mack. Enter Robert Quinn; owner of the highest Pass Rush Win Rate over the past two years. After recording 11.5 sacks opposite DeMarcus Lawrence, he could have a big year in Chicago.

Quinn’s predecessor in Chicago, Leonard Floyd, never developed as a pass rusher and often found himself unable to finish. That isn’t an issue with Quinn, though his deficiencies defending the run could be. Perhaps with Akiem Hicks back healthy next to Eddie Goldman, opposing offenses will be forced to run sideline-to-sideline for the Bears speedy linebackers to clean up.

Worst Move: Bidding Against Themselves

A theme of Pace’s tenure has been the Bears seemingly overpaying for players, be it in free agency or the draft. Trading up for Mitchell Trubisky is the most notable move and he may have just repeated himself trading for Nick Foles. The journeyman cost a (valuable) mid-round pick and $15 million. Pace could have waited for Foles to be released like Cam Newton was.

A logical argument can be made for overpaying for a quarterback, but what about an aging tight end? That’s the scenario with Jimmy Graham who the Bears signed to a two-year, $16 million deal with $9 million in guarantees. Graham hasn’t been useful between the 20s for several years, but he even saw a dip in his red-zone usage last season with the Green Bay Packers.

Next Move: Unearth More Gems

This is, of course, pending any trade that moves Mitchell Trubisky. If that happens, their next move should be to try finding their quarterback of the future. That’ll be tough with no pick until the second round without a passer falling. Outside of that, they’ll need to do what Pace and company have been best know for, discovering talent in the later rounds.

Free agency isn’t over, but the Bears are pretty cash strapped. That means holes at right guard and strong safety need to be addressed via the draft. Alex Bars will have his shot on the line, but Chicago needs offensive line depth across the board. And what about Deon Bush at safety? They at least have thrown bodies at their second cornerback spot.

Detroit Lions

Best Move: Moving On

When the Detroit Lions signed Desmond Trufant, it helped pave the way for their moving on from Rashaan Melvin. The late-bloomer went undrafted in 2013 and didn’t start until his second season and even then still only had two starts before 2016. He turned a couple of good years with the Indianapolis Colts into a pair of one-year pacts with the Oakland Raiders and the Lions.

Trufant arrives in Detroit on a two-year deal. Melvin’s play tailed off last season as he allowed 63 percent completion and a 104.1 passer rating; up from 54.8 percent and a 96.2 rating in 2018. Trufant spent the first seven seasons of his career with the Atlanta Falcons. He missed much of 2019, but in 2018 he allowed 59.2 percent completion and an 87.6 passer rating.

Worst Move: Moving On

A little double talk here as the Lions basically stayed in place. They upgraded from Melvin, but they also traded Darius Slay to the Philadelphia Eagles. Slay has been Detroit’s best corner since his arrival in 2013. His play dipped compared to 2018, but he still only allowed 55.9 percent completion and 81.6 passer rating. In a down year!

The fact of the matter is, Trufant was really brought in to replace Slay. But the only reason a replacement is needed is because of friction between Slay and Lions head coach, Matt Patricia. Per Slay, Patricia made offensive remarks in regards to a picture of an opposing wide receiver Slay posted on social media. If true, the Lions are in more trouble than needing a cornerback.

Next Move: Win or Go Home

Patricia has done his best to recreate what he experienced with the New England Patriots. He’s even gone so far as to try and take on the persona of his mentor, Bill Belichick, with the media. He’s even chastised press members for being late; an infraction he himself is guilty of. Unfortunately, for Patricia, he isn’t Belichick so his antics aren’t being overlooked.

What’s more, if he is indeed bumping heads with players over such things his tenure in Detroit might not last the entire 2020 season. This isn’t to say an organization is always wrong for choosing the coach over a player (though they usually are). But it is suggesting that Patricia hasn’t done enough (nor does he have a leash long enough) to be running off players.

Green Bay Packers

Best Move: Free Agency Restraint

2019 saw a very different gameplan from the Packers in the offseason. General manager Brian Gutekunst used his second go to further distance his image from that of predecessor Ted Thompson. Green Bay addressed its leaky defense both in free agency and the draft, signing Adrian Amos and pass rushers Preston Smith and Za’Darius Smith and drafting Rashan Gary and Darnell Savage.

2020 has been a return to normalcy. Green Bay has added inside linebacker Christian Kirksey, offensive tackle Ricky Wagner, and wide receiver Devin Funchess from the outside. And those deals all pale in comparison to what was spent last year. Fans might have been disappointed by the overall lack of aggressiveness. But they needed much less this time around.

Worst Move: Questions at WR2

Davante Adams has worked his way into becoming Aaron Rodgers’ favorite weapon. He entered last season fresh off of his first 1000-yard season in 2018 but injuries limited him to 12 games. He still managed to accumulate 997 yards, tying his second-highest single-season mark, and grab five touchdowns. Adams’ 83 grabs by far led the team.

The second-leading receiver was Allen Lazard with his 35/477/3 stat line. He was bested by running backs Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams as well as tight end Jimmy Graham. The only addition so far, Funchess, missed all but one game last year. With so much youth at the position already, another rookie doesn’t make sense so it’s a bit surprising they didn’t do more.

Next Move: Draft Rodgers Heir Apparent

Green Bay only has one pick this season and it’s not exactly a premium one. They’re currently slated to pick 30th in the first round of the April 23rd NFL Draft. That spot can be used for a myriad of things from simply taking the best player available to trading down to gain more draft capital to fill more holes.

While the Packers could certainly use the pick on a receiver (see above) but a savvier move might be to select a quarterback should one slide. No, they don’t have an immediate need for one, but that shouldn’t stop them from taking one should the opportunity arise. After all, Brett Favre was 36 when the Packers took Rodgers (also 36) in 2005.

Minnesota Vikings

Best Move: Blowing Up the Secondary

This is a bit of an exaggeration. What the Minnesota Vikings actually did was start over at cornerback. Xavier Rhodes (Colts), Trae Waynes, and Mackensie Alexander (both Cincinnati Bengals) will all suit up elsewhere as the Vikings revamp their 15th-ranked pass defense.

Rhodes’ release is the biggest reason this is a good move. His completion percentage allowed ballooned from a mediocre 61.3 percent last season to a whopping 81.5 percent. He had to go. It remains to be seen if Minnesota rolls with Kris Boyd and Mike Hughes plus a rookie. But they will need to draft at least one corner. How early and often are the only real questions.

Worst Move: Losing Diggs and Griffen

Hey, a twofer! Both Stefon Diggs and Everson Griffen will find themselves in different uniforms in 2020 for very different reasons. Diggs’ frustration has often been visible on the sidelines and social media; though he has often denied the latter were ever anything serious. Minnesota traded him for a draft haul to the Buffalo Bills. Adam Thielen could struggle without Diggs taking the top off.

Griffen’s departure is a little more sentimental, and not just because he was longer tenured. Griffen went through some mental health issues that cost him five games in 2018. The Vikings stood by him through that and he came back in 2019 with eight sacks opposite Danielle Hunter. They’ll need Ifeadi Odenigbo to take a major leap.

Next Move: Win or Go Home

Vikings brass finds themselves in a similar situation to the Lions. They have put together a team they’ve felt were contenders for the past couple of years only to fall short. Their saving grace has been making the playoffs three of the last six seasons. But how long can just getting there be enough? Especially when the peak was reaching the NFC Championship game back in 2017.

This shows worst on two individuals in the Vikings organization. Head coach Mike Zimmer and quarterback Kirk Cousins. Zimmer is in his sixth season and obviously owns the successes and failures of this group. Cousins has failed to elevate them above the heights they reached with Case Keenum, but he just got an extension. It looks like the powers that be in Minnesota have picked a side.