The NFL offseason is just beginning and there are huge names that can be transitioning to new homes. Deshaun Watson remains adamant about playing for a new team in 2021, even threatening to sit out or retire if his wishes are not fulfilled. Does he move to Miami, New York [Jets], or somewhere else? J.J. Watt has already gone to play with former teammate DeAndre Hopkins in Arizona. Is he the last to leave Houston?
Jacksonville has gone out and hired a fantastic head coach and holds the No. 1 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. Their franchise has been a catastrophe in recent years, but does it all change this year? You’ve got to think having a head coach with the Urban Meyer’s pedigree instills hope in this fanbase, but will it be enough?
For the Houston and Jacksonville fans out there, brighter days are ahead. Indy, if you can find yourself a quarterback that doesn’t have as many family obligations, you might make a deeper playoff push. As far as Tennessee goes, here’s to hoping you can find another OC with the same adeptness as new Falcons head coach Arthur Smith.
2020 Record: 4-12
Glaring need: Running Back
This organization is baffling. I get that DeAndre Hopkins wanted a new contract and the organization felt that they couldn’t afford to pay him, but they essentially traded one of the game’s most prolific receivers for spare parts. On top of this, they have essentially demonized Deshaun Watson and have now caused him to want to leave the team. They’ve set the franchise back for the foreseeable future with truly no short-term or long-term gain from it. The other side of this coin is the idea that they don’t even have draft picks to bolster the roster. Houston isn’t picking until the third round in this year’s draft, and with the needs that they have, this could get ugly.
My prediction is that this team will be selecting No. 1 overall in 2022, and thankfully they still have that draft pick (editors note: for now).
David Johnson used to be among the best running backs in the league. In fact, he was taken as the No. 1 overall fantasy player in most 2017 drafts because of his sensational 2016 campaign. Unfortunately, he was bitten by the injury bug and has never returned to his old form. Johnson is currently almost a $9 million cap hit for 2021, the eighth-highest on the team. Only $2 million of this would remain as dead cap, but they could clear nearly an additional $7 million. Considering they only have $18 million of cap space left, this might behoove them.
What happens if they do end up releasing Johnson? Well, Kenny Gainwell can arrive and step right in as the lead back. Gainwell is arguably the best pass-catching back in this draft class, and for a team that relies on the pass more than the run, this would be an asset. It’s actually a little surprising seeing that he can run with a considerable amount of power given his size. If he can bulk up a little bit, he can be a force in the NFL for years to come. Let’s hope Houston can get a steal in the third round of this year’s draft.
2020 Record: 11-5
Glaring need: Quarterback
The news of Philip (Lip) Rivers retiring may have come as a shock to some, but when you can’t make it to a Super Bowl and you have nine children to take care of at home, you may have to question your role in life. Rivers has always been a competent enough quarterback, but the fallacy that he is an elite option should be put to bed quickly.
Here is a list of players:
What do these players have in common? They were all offensive Pro Bowl selections in 2006 when the Chargers lost in the Divisional Round of the playoffs.
Rivers STILL couldn’t lead his team to a Super Bowl with this offensive roster.
Now, I do like the fit of a potential reunion between Frank Reich and Carson Wentz, but this isn’t about what veterans would be good fits for this team; it’s all about the rookies. As we have seen, this year’s QB class is phenomenal. The likes of Trevor Lawrence, Justin Fields, and Zach Wilson will more than likely be gone by the time Indy picks at No. 21, but thankfully for the Colts, there is another signal caller that projects to be there that should pique their interest.
Kyle Trask fits the mold of what most coaches look for in a QB. He is 6-5 and has an arm that won’t knock your socks off, but it gets the job done. He’s able to attack all levels of the field and makes very decisive and smart throws, at times finding an open receiver before there is one. The anticipatory aspect of his game is what will likely make him an NFL starter, even if he is believed to be a day two pick. His biggest issues are his footwork and the lower part of his body. He tends to primarily drive most of his throws from his arm, but can see an uptick in power if he incorporates the lower extremities. Most believe he is a second-round talent, but can sneak into the first round if the Colts don’t trade for another quarterback.
2020 Record: 1-15
Glaring need: Quarterback
I don’t know how much easier the job can get for the Jaguars front office. They’ve got the No. 1 overall pick and the opportunity to draft arguably the best QB prospect since Andrew Luck. Truthfully, the Jags should RUN their card up to the podium the second the draft begins. Why am I still seeing dismay in the eyes of the Jacksonville fans in my life though? Upon further review, I think I’ve figured it out.
Since 2011, the Jaguars have drafted a total of six different quarterbacks, varying from as high as No. 3 overall to as low as the No. 203 pick. The likes of Blaine Gabbert, Blake Bortles, Brandon Allen, Tanner Lee, Gardner Minshew, and Jake Luton have walked through the gates at TIAA Bank Field. Only Bortles has won them a playoff game.
It seems that the front office isn’t as good at drafting quarterbacks as one may have thought.
I can understand why Jags fans would be nervous, but the issue here is not what Trevor Lawrence can do well, it’s where he can grow. We’ve all heard about how great he is, so I won’t bore you with more nonsense about how he does this well or that well. Instead, let’s focus on the fact that he can come off at times as a one-read quarterback. Throughout his college career, he’s struggled with working through progressions at all of the levels of the defense. There are times that this is on display, but he isn’t particularly consistent about it. Considering the fact that he will be a franchise quarterback, he will need to learn this skill as he develops. However, if this is the biggest worry with Lawrence, Jags fans are still in pretty good shape.
2020 Record: 11-5
Glaring need: Wide Receiver
What a polarizing team need. Derrick Henry is the focal point of this offense and rightfully so. He continues to show that he can be among the league’s best backs with hardly any usage in the passing game. A.J. Brown has the chance to be a truly elite receiver so long as he sees a slight uptick in targets. This may come to fruition if fellow receiver Corey Davis leaves this offseason.
Davis more than likely played his way out of Tennessee after they declined his fifth-year option and he put up the numbers that he did this season. His production has always been in question, but it seems that he is finally coming into his own and should land a quality payday to be the No. 1 receiver on a team that needs one. With all of this on the horizon, Tennessee will be without a true No. 2 receiver that can complement and play behind Brown. Lucky for them, this year’s receiver class is deep and talented.
Who’s the best fit for the Titans in this year’s draft? Purdue wide receiver Rondale Moore. This guy has the potential to be the most dynamic player in the draft. Moore can truly do it all which and would serve as the best complement to Brown; a big-bodied receiver that will win physical matchups. He can get the ball behind the LOS and turn it into a 30-yard gain in the blink of an eye, or he can burn you down the sideline for a long touchdown. The only concern here is his durability. He’s played in just seven games over the past two years, which is concerning. That being said, when he is healthy, he can win games by himself. The question is whether or not he will be.