Every NFL offseason there are instant knee-jerk reactions by fans and analysts about controversial moves and transactions each franchise makes. Those responses are often filled with negative criticism that is sometimes warranted, but most of the time it is too soon to deem a move a bad one right after it is made. After a quarter of the way through the season, it is still pretty early to tell if these teams made the right decision in these deals. However, it is much easier to get a perspective on the offseason now because actual games have been played rather than just blind projections.
For some teams, it has been easy to pinpoint where they went wrong because they have been weak in certain facets of the game so far this season, or their splashy signing has been a bust. It wasn’t so easy for other franchises around the league that have been really successful early on this season like the Kansas City Chiefs and Los Angeles Rams that have both done great at this point partly due to making great moves in the offseason. Yet there is still room for improvement for even the best teams around the league, and if they all could go back in time, these would be the transactions they would love to take back.
The NFL trade deadline is rapidly approaching at the end of this month, and teams will surely make questionable deals that will have some backlash. This list focuses on the bad deals from last year’s deadline and the other peculiar moves that happened for each team within the last year.
32: Arizona Cardinals – Signing Sam Bradford
Sam Bradford’s agent must be a better magician than Harry Houdini, David Copperfield, and David Blaine combined, how else would he have been able to trick the Arizona Cardinals into signing the journeyman quarterback to a deal worth an astonishing $40 million for two seasons. By giving him this deal they obviously expected him to be their starter for at least this season, but after a sad 0-2 start, he got benched in the fourth quarter of his third game and he has not seen the field since.
Josh Rosen came in for him and almost came back and won after Bradford was pulled and he started in the Cardinals’ first win of the season. Bradford was even inactive for the last two weeks because he is owed a $312,500 roster bonus for each week he’s active and he would cost a $5 million cap hit if they cut him. That means Mike Glennon, the other quarterback they signed in free agency, will be the backup for the rest of the season, and the Cards basically paid Bradford $20 million this year for three poor starts.
31: Atlanta Falcons – Extending Dan Quinn’s Contract
It was not long ago the Falcons were leading 28-3 at halftime of the Super Bowl with a sure title at their fingertips. However, we know how that story played out and their implosion on the game’s biggest stage was not pretty. Since then they have definitely underachieved as a team getting bounced early in the second round of last year’s playoffs and currently sit in last place of their division at 2-4. They have not lost much talent from their run to the Super Bowl two years ago and one could even argue they have more weapons on offense, so most of the blame has to be directed at their head coach, Dan Quinn, who signed an extension this offseason to keep him as the head coach until the 2022 season.
After this year’s sluggish start and last season’s playoff disappointment, it is pretty safe to say that the Falcons and their fans might be ready for a new head coach to capitalize on the talented roster they currently have.
30: Baltimore Ravens – Signing RGIII
It’s pretty surprising that Robert Griffin III is still in the league, but he is in a much more diminished role after the Ravens signed him to be one of their backups this offseason. This move somewhat makes sense in hindsight because RGIII was seemingly a perfect mentor to keep Lamar Jackson from making the same mistakes he did early on his career. However, Jackson was not even on the roster when they made this move, so it made relatively no sense at the time.
Sure, Griffin would presumably be a serviceable backup because he has experience starting in the NFL, but he has already proven he has trouble staying healthy when he is put in as a starter. If the Ravens were forced into putting him in for a portion of their season, his durability would have been a major question mark and they could have been done if he was injured. Lucky for them they drafted Jackson, so RGIII’s signing seems pretty insignificant to their team at this point, so it is at the bottom of this list.
29: Buffalo Bills – Signing A.J. McCarron
When the Bills signed A.J. McCarron this offseason, it looked like a solid move for them getting a veteran signal caller with some starting experience. Many people expected him to become the full-time starter in Buffalo for the first time in his career after sitting behind Andy Dalton in Cincinnati. However, that did not go according to plan and McCarron somehow lost the job in training camp to Nathan Peterman, who has been one of the worst quarterbacks in the league when forced into action. Eventually, first-round pick Josh Allen emerged as the starter after the first couple of the weeks of the season and has shown flashes of what made the Bills take him in the first round of the draft.
If the Bills felt like they were going to draft Allen and start him this season, then their move to sign McCarron makes little sense because they were only able to trade him for a fifth-rounder and they signed him for two years and $10 million. What a waste of money.
28: Carolina Panthers – Not Re-Signing Andrew Norwell
The Jaguars decided to sign Andrew Norwell to a huge contract worth $66.5 million this offseason which is outrageous money to give to a guard. The Panthers did not have the money whatsoever to match that offer, but they could have at least franchise tagged him and kept him around for another season. The fact that Jacksonville threw all that money at him should show how valuable Norwell can be to an offensive line. His presence in Carolina made them one of the best running teams in football and helped give Cam Newton some much-needed protection. To make matters worse the Panthers have suffered injuries along their line this season and that has forced them to play really inexperienced players in Norwell’s old spot.
27: Chicago Bears – Losing Cameron Meredith To The Saints
While Cameron Meredith was with the Bears, he proved to be an explosive slot receiver when he was healthy. His main problem was that he had a ton of trouble staying on the field that limited his production, especially in his last season with the team in 2017 when he tore his ACL in the third preseason game. However, that did not stop the Saints from targeting him this offseason as a restricted free agent. The Saints offered Meredith a two-year deal reportedly worth $9.6 million and that gave the Bears a five-day window to match that contract. Instead, they decided to let him walk and Meredith became a Saint. He started this season slowly because of his injury, but his numbers have improved every week since entering the lineup and he even caught a touchdown in the Saints’ victory in Week 5.
26: Cincinnati Bengals – Re-Signing Tyler Eifert
When the Cincinnati Bengals re-signed Tyler Eifert this offseason, they were probably dreaming about his incredible 2015 season when he made the Pro Bowl and had one of the best seasons for a tight end in Bengals history. Yet they should have been thinking about how it has been one injury after another since he had that breakout season. Ironically, Eifert was injured in that Pro Bowl and that caused him to miss half of the next season, and he has ended every season on injured reserve since making that Pro Bowl appearance. Unfortunately, it was no surprise when a broken ankle once again put Eifert out for the season this year, and it proved that the Bengals would have been better off moving on from him this past offseason.
25: Cleveland Browns – Trading For Tyrod Taylor
When the Browns gave up a third-round pick for Tyrod Taylor early last March, it looked like a solid move for them to let whomever they drafted learn for a season sitting behind him, since he just led a team to the postseason. But Taylor did not look good in his first few weeks of the season as the starter and when he entered concussion protocol in the third week of the season, Baker Mayfield came in and took his job for good. Mayfield looked solid in preseason as well and the Browns probably would have gotten off to a better start to the season had he entered the season as the starter at quarterback. If the Browns did not waste their third rounder on Tyrod and had faith in Baker Mayfield right off the bat, they would have been much better off.