Despite the ongoing health crisis, the NFL 9conceivably) edges closer and closer to a return. Fans have seen one of the most interesting offseasons in recent history with several big moves. Meanwhile, the draft was especially good this year with some brilliant young players stepping into the big leagues.
Every team has also made a few risky moves as well. Some of them brought in new coaches or players that have points to prove. Others decided to stick with what they had. In short, it’s a fascinating albeit uncertain time in the NFL. Let’s take a look at every team’s riskiest move in the 2020 offseason via Bleacher Report below.
32. Arizona Cardinals
Let’s start off in Arizona. The Cardinals made a couple of strange moves in the offseason. First of all, they signed offensive tackle D.J Humphries to a three-year contract worth $43.8 million. That was ignoring the fact that Humphries has only had one good season in his NFL career so far.
Meanwhile, they also let Terrell Suggs leave last year and haven’t replaced him so far. Suggs only contributed 5.5 sacks last season but that leaves only Chandler Jones as their only major pass rusher. They may need to look towards the trade market for a replacement before it’s too late.
The Falcons took a big risk in the offseason by signing Dante Fowler to a three-year contract worth $45 million. That’s a lot of money for a player with a lot to prove. The 25-year-old did have the best year of his professional career with an 11.5-sack season with the Los Angeles Rams in 2019.
However, that’s also the first time he did so in four years. Fowler was once a top-five overall pick but he has been inconsistent in the NFL. After a great year with the Rams, it’s a big risk for him to move to Falcons and try to get a to grips with a new system. Meanwhile, it’s an even bigger one for the Falcons to take him on.
We all know that the Ravens have one of the best quarterbacks and offenses in the league. But it’s their defense that has a few more question marks. After making moves in the draft to sign up two exciting rookies, it looks like one of Patrick Queen or Malik Harrison will be the main linebacker.
When you add in the uncertainty about Matt Judon’s career in Maryland, it’s clear that they are taking risks with their defense this year. Both Queen and Harrison were brilliant in college, but are they ready for the professional game? Baltimore’s defense could make or break the team this year.
On paper, the addition of Stefon Diggs makes a lot of sense. Josh Allen has lacked a legitimate number one receiver until this point. However, Diggs comes with baggage. First of all, the deal will cost the Bills over $10 million in salary as well as several draft picks.
Diggs also isn’t afraid to make his voice heard if he’s not happy with the way things are going in the offense. Furthermore, they will have to change their offensive gameplan, forcing Allen to adapt. It has the potential to be brilliant, but there’s no denying the risk.
The Panthers made several interesting moves in the offseason. Signing Teddy Bridgewater is one of their biggest calls. It does make some sense. For several seasons, Bridgewater was the best backup quarterback in the NFL with the New Orleans Saints last year.
However, he hasn’t been a starter since 2015. Bridgewater has also struggled with injuries and played in few meaningful games since then. It does make sense to sign him, but it wouldn’t be a surprise if it doesn’t work.
One of the most curious moves in the offseason was the Bears’ trade for Nick Foles. With Mitchell Trubisky’s contract running out, how will the 25-year-old respond to this challenge?
It could light a fire under Trubisky. But they might also end up playing a former Jaguars backup as their starting QB. Foles had great moments for Philly but hasn’t done much since. This is a massive risk by the Bears.
Handing cornerback Trae Waynes a three-year, $42 million contract is definitely a risk. In 2019, opponents completed a staggering 74% of the passes he faced. But one of their other high-profile moves is also very hazardous.
We’re talking about Joe Burrow. Of course, they were always going to draft the Heisman Trophy winner after arguably the greatest college year ever. But asking a rookie to revitalize a franchise could be too much. Also, many quarterbacks benefit from sitting out their first year. Burrow will play from the start. It could be one of the best or the worst moves of the offseason.
This whole season could be defined as a massive risk for the Browns after an incredibly disappointing 2019. after they came into the season with so much hype around his name. But Baker Mayfield’s confidence turned to cockiness and the team deteriorated.
In sum, he must do better. However, another area where the Browns should have concerns is their linebackers. They failed to replace Christian Kirksey and Joe Schobert with like-for-like talent. Should they have made more moves? Only time will tell, but they’re playing with fire.
Just what are the Cowboys going to do about Dak Prescott’s contract situation? Sure, it’s not an issue for this season, but they’ve had the whole offseason to sort it out. Speculation will only increase the longer this situation remains at an impasse.
In the end, this could all be about nothing. However, Jerry Jones and the Cowboys won’t be happy with Patrick Mahomes’s new deal in Kansas. With the quarterback set to earn almost half a billion dollars, Prescott can suddenly demand more money. They probably should have just done the deal quickly.
The Broncos didn’t take too many risks in the offseason. One of their moves was to decline a fifth-year option for offensive tackle Garrett Bowles. Looking in from the outside, it makes sense. In just over 1,000 snaps last year, Bolles allowed four sacks and committed 17 penalties.
He’s been responsible for a staggering 45 penalties over the past four seasons. However, declining the option year is always a risk because players could suddenly blossom. That could be unlikely here. Signing Melvin Gordon for $8 million per year was somewhat risky considering they had a solid enough backfield to begin with as well.
Jamie Collins had one of the best seasons of his career for the New England Patriots. He contributed 81 total tackles, a team-leading seven sacks, three forced fumbles, and three interceptions. Then the Lions offered him a three-year, $30 million contract.
It’s definitely not the most dramatic risk on this page. But the questions begs, has Collins already delivered his best? The veteran linebacker is almost 31. They’re effectively paying for what he has done instead of what he will do. But if you’re a three-win team, those are the breaks.
The Packers made one of the most shocking moves of the first round when they traded up for Jordan Love. The rookie will be a backup to Aaron Rodgers in very strange circumstances. Rodgers will stay in Wisconsin until at least 2022. By then, Love’s rookie contract will be almost up.
Meanwhile, they still have problems at wide receiver. Rodgers will not be happy and that’s a massive risk when you consider his role with the club. They haven’t improved his weapons but they did bring in promising young competition. That has to burn.
Nobody knows what the Texans were thinking. DeAndre Hopkins was one of the best wide receivers in the NFL during his time in Texas. But now they’ve traded him to the Arizona Cardinals. This was one of the weirdest moves of the year and only time will tell if it was a major gaffe.
The 28-year-old has five 1,000-yard seasons since entering the league in 2013, including two with more than 1,500. Meanwhile, the Texans signed Brandin Cooks after he had one of the worst seasons of his career. In sum, if this doesn’t work, heads may roll.
Philip Rivers is a legend. But make no mistake, he had a terrible season in 2019. That’s why the Colts’ decision to sign him was one of the riskiest moves of the offseason. The soon-to-be 38-year-old was synonymous with the LA Chargers until he had 20 turnovers last season.
Rivers is close to the end of his career, so only time will tell how wise a move it was to bring him to Indianapolis. However, in 2018, he did throw 32 touchdown passes. If he can recapture that form and reinvigorate his form at a new franchise, the Colts could look like geniuses.
The Nick Foles era in Jacksonville was an unmitigated disaster. The Jaguars turned to rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew II. With his magnificent mustache, their fortunes changed somewhat for the better and now they’re sticking with him.
It’s one of the bravest moves this year. In 12 starts, the sixth-round pick topped 3,200 passing yards, threw 21 touchdowns against just six picks, posted a passer rating of 91.2, and won six games. But can he do it again?
On paper, the Chiefs don’t look like they have any trouble brewing. First of all, they made a massive statement by signing Patrick Mahomes to an extension worth up to almost half a billion dollars. However, they may face concerns at cornerback after the departure of Kendall Fuller.
They re-sign veteran Bashaud Breeland on a one-year deal to fill the gap. Going into 2020 this light is definitely a risky move. Meanwhile, defensive tackle Chris Jones also got a massive contract extension. The cap could catch up to Kansas City.
This is a make-or-break season for Derek Carr. But the big question is whether or not Jon Gruden should stick with him. Carr occasionally threatens greatness but has never delivered the type of consistency you expect from a top quarterback.
The Raiders could have moved for an experienced quarterback like Tom Brady or Philip Rivers during the offseason. In fact, you could say it was a missed opportunity not to entice Brady to Las Vegas in their debut season. What a move that would have been. Instead, they’re risking it with Carr and Marcus Mariota.
After allowing Philip Rivers to depart after 16 years, they drafted touted prospect Justin Herbert. The University of Oregon standout looks the real deal but it’s a risk nonetheless.
Herbert hasn’t even practiced with the Chargers yet because of the current health crisis. In all likelihood, they will ‘redshirt’ him and make Tyrod Taylor their starter. But there is an alarming lack of depth behind Taylor. Will they bring in another veteran QB on a one-year deal? It could be a risk not to.
Todd Gurley moves from the Rams to the Falcons in 2020. This could spell trouble for the LA franchise because they lack a running back of similar stature and experience. Sure, Gurley averaged just 3.8 yards per carry and rushed for a career-low 857 yards in 2019.
However, the issue isn’t so much his departure as it is their lack of a solid replacement. They do have Malcolm Brown, Darrell Henderson, and rookie Cam Akers. Those backs could be good but are largely unproven. What effect will this have on Jared Goff’s season? Only time will tell.
Drafting Tua Tagovailoa was one of the most exciting moves of the offseason. But will the Dolphins use him this season? Several risks could arise if they throw him in too early. He suffered a dislocated and fractured hip a year ago, so they need to keep him healthy.
They may redshirt him and start bearded veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick. But that won’t energize the fanbase. They need to weigh Tagovailoa’s longterm health against the potential short-term gain from throwing him in too early, even if the coaches say he’s ready.
The Vikings have clear issues at cornerback as they’re expecting rookies to step up to plate. But one of their most high problems is Dalvin Cook’s contract situation. He is coming off a Pro Bowl season with more than 1,600 combined yards.
However, he is also refusing to play unless they give him a lucrative extension. The Vikings must decide if they’re willing to risk a holdout from their most talented offensive player or if they’ll give him the massive contract he’s looking for. It’s a messy situation.
Tom Brady and Cam Newton combine to make this one of the easiest segments to write on this list. First of all, allowing Brady to depart comes with risks. After 20 historic years with the Patriots, was it really the right time to cut ties with their legendary quarterback?
Meanwhile, signing Newton looks like one of the most sensible moves of the offseason. But will he get close to his 2015 MVP form and can Bill Belichick get the best out of him in a very different system? There are a lot of questions and a lot of risks to consider.
On paper, allowing Teddy Bridgewater to leave might not seem like the biggest deal. He moved to the Carolina Panthers to replace Cam Newton. However, it does shine the spotlight on Drew Brees’s back-ups in New Orleans. There is some cause for worry.
First of all, Brees is 41 now. There are no guarantees that he stays fit for the full season. That leaves Sean Payton with Jameis Winston and Taysom Hill. While Payton ‘loves’ Hill, he hasn’t started a game at quarterback since 2016.
The Giants surprised everybody by signing Joe Judge from the Patriots. Judge has limited experience. First of all, he has never been an offensive coordinator or a defensive coordinator.
In New England, he led their special teams. It’s definitely one of the most intriguing choices we have seen in recent years. Judge has Bill Belichick’s respect and admiration, so it could be a masterstroke. But there’s no doubt that he has everything to prove.
The Jets are investing in quarterback Sam Darnold. After having one of the worst offenses in the league, they did the right thing and boosted their offensive line. However, their concentration on one area of the field does leave gaping chinks in their armor.
Another of the Jets’ flaws last season was getting after the quarterback. The team was just 23rd in the league with 35 sacks. However, apart from drafting third-rounder Jabari Zuniga, they haven’t addressed this area of the field at all. It’s a big risk because they’re relying on the same players to drastically up their game.
Allowing Nigel Bradham to move on as a free agent is a risky move from the Eagles. It’s not that he’s a worldbeater, but it does mean that their linebacking corps took a hit. Do you really want to rely on veterans past their prime and rookies?
Bradham is still available as a free agent. He started 58 games for the Eagles over the past five years so it would make sense to extend for another season. If not him, they need another veteran linebacker. Otherwise, they’re taking a big chance.
Ben Roethlisberger is back after a nightmare injury year. Yet the Steelers need to take a look at their options if something happens again. Last season, the duo of Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges just couldn’t get them to the postseason.
Furthermore, we don’t know what ‘Big Ben’s’ level will be when he plays again. He’s 38 and more injury-prone these days. A sensational swoop for Colin Kaepernick as a backup would make a lot of sense. It’s a foolhardy move to put all your eggs in Roethlisberger’s basket.
The 49ers traded DT DeForest Buckner for financial reasons. They’ll keep his replacement from South Carolina, Javon Kinlaw, on a rookie contract for four years. Kinlaw also has a lot of potential but he’s not Buckner just yet.
Buckner averaged 66 tackles per season and 28.5 sacks 0ver his first four seasons. Those are great numbers and why the Indianapolis Colts will pay him $21 million per season. If you want to win the Super Bowl you need to keep your best players. The 49ers didn’t do that.
The whole Jadeveon Clowney situation is a mess for the Seahawks. They need to address the pass rush after a shoddy 28 sacks as a team last season. Clowney only produced three and now has drifted into free agency.
However, in Clowney’s defense, he did suffer from a hernia last year. The Seahawks might be wise to give him another year if he’s still available at the right price. They need to up those numbers somehow but have less than $14 million left in cap space. Could this be their downfall?
The Buccanneers’ swoop for Tom Brady was one of the most exciting moves of the offseason. From a commercial standpoint, it makes perfect sense. But on the playing field, it could be a different story. First of all, Brady is almost 43 and coming off a poor year by his standards.
That just won’t stand up in Florida now. Their fans expect them to compete with the New Orleans Saints in the NFC South and push to become the first team to play in a Super Bowl in their own stadium. Meanwhile, Brady has to adapt to Bruce Arians’ preferred style of play. The goodwill could vanish quickly.
Ryan Tannehill just had the best year of his career so far. That’s why the Titans chose to reward him with a lucrative four-year, $118 million extension. However, that may prove to have been misguided. First of all, Tannehill’s excellent season was the exception to the rule.
His passer rating was 30 points higher than his career average. Can the 31-year-old produce those same numbers this year? The Titans extended Derrick Henry’s contract because he is such a key player for them. It’s a fair question if Tannehill would have earned his contract without the bruising runner.
Last but not least, the decision to change their name is one that could come back to bite Washington in the short-term. While the reasons make total sense from the perspective of racial equality and commercial growth, the truth is that many fans are going to resist this.
With their problems on the field, the last thing the former Redskins need is a divided fanbase too. Add that to a growing sexual harassment scandal, and Washington, who has been one of the worst teams in the NFL on the field, is arguably the worst off the field as well. It seems every move thy make gong forward is a risk no matter what.