With the 2021 NFL offseason now here, let’s break down five teams particularly well-positioned to decline significantly in the coming months.
1. New Orleans Saints
Regardless of whether or not quarterback Drew Brees returns, the Saints are slated to be in salary-cap hell. They’re projected to be about $70 million over the reduced cap right now, and even a retired Brees would cost them more than $22 million. With Jameis Winston, Marcus Williams, Trey Hendrickson, Sheldon Rankins, and Jared Cook headed toward free agency, it will be hard for this team to keep up this offseason.
2. Houston Texans
Regardless of whether or not they keep quarterback Deshaun Watson, it’s ugly. Watson wants out, star defender J.J. Watt might want a fresh start somewhere else, and the front office is the definition of dysfunction. They’re also tight enough against the cap that it could be tough to keep top receiver Will Fuller V, and they won’t be on the clock until pick No. 67 in the draft.
3. Los Angeles Rams
The Rams arguably upgraded by trading quarterback Jared Goff for Matthew Stafford, but that didn’t free up enough cap space to give them flexibility, and they again lack a first-round draft pick. They’re about $25 million over the projected cap right now, and that’s without key impending free-agent defensive backs John Johnson III and Troy Hill.
4. Philadelphia Eagles
They’re unlikely to get much for quarterback Carson Wentz after such a horrible season, and the jury’s still out on 2020 second-round pick Jalen Hurts anyway. They’re projected to be more than $40 million over the cap with Jalen Mills and Vinny Curry headed toward free agency, and there isn’t much financial flexibility on the current roster. That doesn’t make up for the fact they hold the No. 6 overall pick in the draft.
5. Green Bay Packers
At least they don’t appear foolish enough to trade quarterback Aaron Rodgers, but the Packers are also on track to be more than $20 million over the cap. They won’t be on the clock until late in the first round, and by then they might have already kissed goodbye to key impending in-house free agents Aaron Jones, Corey Linsley, and Jamaal Williams.