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Ranking the Worst: A Look at the Bottom Teams in the NFL Offseason



The Bottom Teams in the NFL Offseason

18. Atlanta Falcons

Every NFL Draft‘s first-round picks are memorable in their own way, but only a select few become enduring talking points for years to come.

When the Atlanta Falcons chose quarterback Michael Penix Jr. with the eighth overall pick, it instantly sparked discussions that will likely echo throughout the next decade—whether for better or worse.

No team’s offseason generated more buzz than the Falcons’. They began by overhauling their coaching staff, replacing Arthur Smith with Raheem Morris, then made a significant splash in free agency with the blockbuster signing of Kirk Cousins to a $180 million deal. This move ignited weeks of excitement, envisioning a Falcons offense finally optimized around their top talents and bolstered by a quarterback capable of delivering.

If the offseason had concluded there, it would have been nothing but optimism for Atlanta. The Penix pick, though, carries its own weight. Remember how the Green Bay Packers were questioned for drafting Jordan Love? Three years later, they look prescient. Yet, Penix’s selection differs from typical “quarterback-in-waiting” picks.

At least the Falcons have given everyone plenty to discuss this offseason.

19. Jacksonville Jaguars

Trevor Lawrence elicits impassioned defenses from his supporters across social media, ready to debate anyone who critiques the Jacksonville Jaguars’ quarterback and his fluctuating NFL journey.

But has Lawrence lived up to his $55 million-per-year contract so far? Even his staunchest defenders might pause before answering.

Had it not been for Lawrence’s high ankle sprain against the Bengals, perhaps the Jaguars wouldn’t have stumbled in five of their last six games. Maybe they could have clinched the AFC South title, redirecting some of the spotlight from C.J. Stroud’s emergence back onto Lawrence, the quarterback who led Jacksonville to the 2022 divisional crown. Such outcomes might have softened the sticker shock of his contract extension.

There are arguments to be made that Lawrence can still fulfill the lofty expectations set during his Clemson days. The Jaguars certainly believe so. Now, Lawrence must prove he’s worth every penny of that lucrative deal.

20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Baker Mayfield’s journey with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers took an unexpected turn from a one-year deal to a three-year, $100 million contract with $50 million guaranteed.

The Buccaneers defied expectations after the Brady era, navigating his dead cap hit to finish 9-8, capture the NFC South title, and dispatch the Philadelphia Eagles 32-9 in the wild-card round. Mayfield’s 4,044 yards and 30 touchdowns underscored a standout season, deserving more recognition for NFL Comeback Player of the Year than ultimately received, with unclear criteria clouding the award’s outcome. It was a pleasantly surprising campaign for Tampa Bay, who nearly ousted the Detroit Lions from the playoffs, locked in a tied fourth-quarter duel in the divisional round, highlighting their late-season resurgence.

However, the question remains: how much of this success can the Buccaneers replicate? They can’t rely on perpetual struggles in the NFC South.

Last 3

30. Denver Broncos

While rookie Bo Nix may not immediately secure the starting spot in Week 1, his debut looms. However, Denver’s supporting cast is sparse. Notable talents like cornerback Patrick Surtain II and receiver Courtland Sutton offer promise, but the overall roster lacks depth and immediate competitiveness. Despite going 8-9 last season under head coach Sean Payton’s adept leadership, the Broncos face an uphill battle after trading for Russell Wilson.

The acquisitions of Wilson and Payton hinted at a pending rebuild, necessitating patience from fans still yearning for the glory days of Peyton Manning and the 2015 squad. The road ahead for Denver remains challenging, with uncertainties looming over their competitive trajectory for seasons to come.

31. New England Patriots

The Patriots selected North Carolina quarterback Drake Maye, signaling a new chapter under head coach Jerod Mayo. Opting to keep their third overall pick despite trade interest from multiple teams like the Giants and Vikings, the Patriots are banking on Maye to anchor their rebuild. While roster replenishment is imperative, passing on a potential franchise quarterback was not an option. New England’s fortunes hinge on Maye’s success.

Maye arrived with substantial hype, touted as QB1 by Yahoo Sports’ Nate Tice for his comprehensive skill set, tempered only by concerns over his aggressive play style and turnover tendencies. Despite efforts to bolster the offense, such as pursuing free-agent Calvin Ridley, the Patriots still struggle to attract top talent. Owner Robert Kraft hinted at quarterback uncertainties influencing Ridley’s decision to join the Tennessee Titans, underscoring New England’s ongoing journey to reestablish itself as a premier destination in the NFL.

32. Carolina Panthers

The Panthers have ushered in a new era under head coach Dave Canales, previously the offensive coordinator for Tampa Bay, where he significantly boosted Baker Mayfield’s career. This move caught Carolina’s eye, prompting them to invest heavily. They shelled out $153 million for guards Robert Hunt and Damien Lewis, acquired receiver Diontae Johnson via trade, and drafted Xavier Legette, Jonathon Brooks, and Ja’Tavion Sanders. These acquisitions mark the initial strides towards maximizing QB Bryce Young’s potential.

However, not all is clear skies. Owner David Tepper remains a looming figure, known for intervening in local affairs and being trigger-happy with change when losses pile up. Young’s journey to greatness remains uncertain, with questions about whether he can match Stroud’s prowess or justify the Panthers’ trade investments. Holes still dot the roster on both offense and defense, highlighting the challenges ahead for Carolina.

Read more: Evaluating the NFL 2024: A Look at NFLPA Team Report Cards

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Veterans on the Verge: Who Needs to Shine in NFL Training Camp?



NFL veterans training camp 2024

In the upcoming NFL season, every player will have something to prove. Star quarterbacks aim to justify their lucrative contracts, and top contenders strive to achieve their Super Bowl dreams. But which players, specifically, have the most to gain in terms of earning trust this summer?

Here are 10 veterans with the most to prove as they enter the 2024 training camp:

Deshaun Watson

Deshaun Watson likely has more to prove during the season, considering he has only played 12 games for Cleveland since his controversial arrival. However, after a limited throwing schedule in the spring, questions remain about the durability of his surgically repaired shoulder, as well as his comfort and chemistry with new offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey’s system.

Trey Lance

The former San Francisco 49ers prospect has little to prove to Dallas beyond being worth their fourth-round trade investment and potentially unseating Cooper Rush as Dak Prescott’s backup. Entering a contract year, can the former No. 2 overall pick demonstrate to the rest of the NFL that he’s making measurable progress as a professional passer?

Miles Sanders

New Panthers head coach Dave Canales has emphasized the run game while aiming to set 2023 No. 1 pick Bryce Young on the right track. It remains to be seen if Miles Sanders will play a significant role, despite signing a substantial deal as the team’s top back last offseason. With Jonathon Brooks as a new sidekick for Chuba Hubbard, the former Philadelphia Eagles starter faces a fight for touches.

Kadarius Toney

The person who figures out Kadarius Toney’s true role and NFL future will be the first to do so. Internally hailed as potentially the most talented receiver on the Chiefs’ depth chart, the former New York Giants castoff is also one of Kansas City’s most unpredictable players. With speedsters Xavier Worthy and Marquise Brown added to the lineup, he’s once again competing for attention from Patrick Mahomes.

Treylon Burks

Fellow Titans receivers like DeAndre Hopkins have praised Treylon Burks’ talents, but there’s a reason Tennessee bolstered Hopkins’ supporting cast by adding Calvin Ridley and Tyler Boyd as perimeter targets. Two years after being drafted as a first-round pick and (somewhat unfairly) A.J. Brown’s successor, Burks remains a relative unknown and could become a trade candidate depending on his summer performance.

Caleb Williams Remains Unsigned

Rookies are set to report to the Chicago Bears training camp today, but the team faces a dilemma: neither first overall pick Caleb Williams nor ninth overall pick Rome Odunze have been signed. Williams, however, isn’t concerned.

“I’m not handling that,” Williams said, via the Chicago Tribune, on Saturday. “My lawyers, attorney, and everyone at the top of the Bears organization are taking care of it. That’s not my responsibility.”

Despite this, the NFL Players Association indicates that Williams doesn’t have an NFLPA-certified agent, which means he is required by union rules to negotiate directly with the Bears. This shouldn’t be a major issue since dollar amounts are predetermined by draft position. However, Williams can still negotiate terms such as the timing of his signing bonus payout, activities that could void guaranteed money, and whether Chicago would get cap relief for guaranteed money if he’s released or signs with another team.

Other Training Camp Stories

The spotlight will be on the first-round rookie quarterbacks, including Washington’s Jayden Daniels, New England’s Drake Maye, Minnesota’s J.J. McCarthy, Atlanta’s Michael Penix Jr., and Denver’s Bo Nix.

In terms of contract negotiations, Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, Cowboys wide receiver CeeDee Lamb, and 49ers receiver Brandon Aiyuk are all potential candidates for new deals in the coming weeks. Should negotiations stall, lingering drama could ensue.

Quarterback competitions are also generating buzz, with Russell Wilson competing against Justin Fields in Pittsburgh. Another notable duel is Gardner Minshew vs. Aidan O’Connell in Las Vegas. Meanwhile, Maye, Nix, McCarthy, and Penix will all aim to challenge the presumed starters in their respective camps. And don’t forget the wildcard battle between Daniel Jones and Drew Lock with the Giants.

This Week’s Schedule

Wednesday, July 17

– Houston Texans

  – Location: Houston Methodist Training Center, Houston, TX

Friday, July 19

-Chicago Bears

  – Location: PNC Center at Halas Hall, Lake Forest, IL

Saturday, July 20

– Baltimore Ravens

  – Location: Under Armour Performance Center, Owings Mills, MD

– Kansas City Chiefs

  – Location: Missouri Western State University, St. Joseph, MO

Sunday, July 21

– Green Bay Packers

  – Location: Nitschke Field, Green Bay, WI

Read more: Ranking the Worst: A Look at the Bottom Teams in the NFL Offseason

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Olympic Champion Gable Steveson Embarks on NFL Journey with Bills



NFL football

Gable Steveson’s agent informed ESPN’s Adam Schefter that his client signed a contract with the Buffalo Bills on Friday.

Steveson, who won a gold medal in freestyle wrestling at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, initially pursued a career in professional wrestling with WWE. However, he was released from his WWE contract earlier this month. Now, Steveson, who has never played organized football, will attempt to make the Bills’ roster as a defensive lineman.

More About the Decision

According to Schefter, Steveson signed a “standard rookie three-year deal.” Steveson expressed his excitement about the new challenge, stating: “I have been fortunate to compete at the highest level in my sport but am looking forward to the challenge of seeing how my wrestling skills may translate to football. I am grateful to Coach [Sean] McDermott, [general manager] Brandon Beane, and the Buffalo Bills organization for giving me this opportunity.”

Despite his impressive athletic background, including two NCAA Division I national championships in wrestling as a heavyweight at the University of Minnesota, Steveson is essentially starting from scratch in football. Schefter noted that Steveson had never even put on a pair of cleats before his recent workout with the Bills.

At 24 years old, Steveson faces long odds to make Buffalo’s 53-man roster in 2024. However, if he shows enough potential in training camp and preseason, a practice squad spot could be a possibility.

McDermott, a successful high school wrestler himself, has a history of gravitating towards players with wrestling backgrounds. According to Schefter, McDermott believes Steveson’s wrestling skills could help him transition to the NFL as a defensive lineman.

While Steveson is somewhat undersized for an NFL defensive lineman at 6’1″ and 275 pounds, his undeniable strength could set him apart from the competition.

Steveson’s attempt to carve out an NFL career is reminiscent of Brock Lesnar’s path. After leaving WWE in 2004, Lesnar, also a national champion wrestler at the University of Minnesota, tried out for the Minnesota Vikings despite not playing football since high school. Although Lesnar was eventually cut, he transitioned to MMA and won the UFC heavyweight title before returning to WWE.

Gable Steveson

In high school, Steveson achieved remarkable success as a three-time age-level world champion, securing U17 world titles in 2015 and 2016, followed by a U20 world title in 2017. Continuing his wrestling career at the University of Minnesota, he placed third at the NCAA Tournament as a true freshman in 2019, and went on to win consecutive national titles in 2021 and 2022.

During his time with WWE, Steveson’s training was interrupted in 2022 due to a heart procedure to treat Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome. Although he was cleared to return to training, he only had one televised match before his release.

Steveson now joins a long line of Olympic athletes attempting to transition to the NFL. Hall of Fame wide receiver “Bullet” Bob Hayes is the only Olympic gold medalist to have won a Super Bowl, accomplishing this feat with the Dallas Cowboys at the end of the 1971 season.

Draft Strength’s

The Buffalo Bills added 12 rookie free agents this offseason who will compete for spots on the roster or, at the very least, positions on the practice squad. We’ve already had a chance to see them in action during the rookie minicamp and the recent OTAs. Once OTAs conclude, we won’t see them or any players again until training camp kicks off in late July.

NFL history is filled with legendary undrafted players like quarterbacks Kurt Warner and Warren Moon, and one of the greatest defensive backs, Dick “Night Train” Lane. Including these greats, Keaton Bills looks to be the most exciting undrafted free agent on this year’s Bills team.

Keaton Bills, who played college football at Utah, was a mainstay on their offensive line for three years. Interestingly, his name and jersey number are perfect for the team—he wears number 60, the same year the Bills began playing football. At 6 feet 4 inches tall and weighing 321 pounds, Bills possesses significant experience and expertise. He earned Pac-12 All-Conference honorable mention for two consecutive years (2022 and 2023) and was a team captain, a trait that Brandon Beane seemed to prioritize in this year’s draft. Sobleski isn’t alone in his admiration; fellow Bleacher Report writer Ryan Fowler also sees Bills as the most likely UDFA to make the team. With his talent and depth on the offensive line, let’s hope he proves them right and secures a spot on the roster.

Team Synergy

Together, Gable Steveson and Keaton Bills represent the diverse talent and untapped potential that the Buffalo Bills are banking on this season. Steveson’s raw athletic power and wrestling prowess, coupled with his willingness to embrace a new sport, bring an element of surprise and excitement to the defensive line. His journey from Olympic gold medalist to NFL hopeful is a testament to his versatility and determination. If he can translate even a fraction of his wrestling dominance to football, he could become a formidable force on the field.

The synergy between Steveson and Bills could be a game-changer for the Bills. Steveson’s potential to disrupt opponents’ offenses and Bills’ ability to fortify his own team’s offensive line create a dynamic that could elevate the entire squad. Their respective backgrounds in wrestling and college football bring a unique blend of skills and perspectives to the team, potentially filling gaps and adding strengths where needed.

Read more: Who Are the Top 2024 NFL Draft Prospects?

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Detroit Drafts into the Spotlight: Unprecedented Turnout and Lions’ Standout Picks



NFL Ball with Logo of all NFL Team

The opening day of the 2024 NFL Draft in Detroit witnessed an unprecedented turnout, with over 275,000 fervent fans flocking to support their teams, shattering the previous attendance record for Day One.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell revealed this staggering figure midway through the first round on Thursday, following the closure of the NFL Draft site due to reaching maximum capacity even before the commencement of the draft proceedings.

The previous Day One attendance milestone was set by the 2018 NFL Draft in Nashville, Tennessee, where over 200,000 attendees gathered on the inaugural night.

Draft in Detroit

Since the NFL designated Detroit as the host city for the 2024 draft, officials had touted the event as an opportunity to elevate the city’s national prominence and generate a substantial economic boost. However, skeptics, both among experts and within the downtown draft environment, question the true significance of enhancing Detroit’s national image and its potential long-term financial implications.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan expressed readiness to showcase a revitalized Motor City, emphasizing that the event’s true impact would be gauged not only in the immediate aftermath but also in its lasting effects on the city’s trajectory.

In addition to the overwhelming turnout of fans in downtown Detroit, millions more across the nation tuned in to witness the draft unfold against the backdrop of Detroit’s cityscape. Unlike previous events such as the 2006 Super Bowl, which relied on temporary installations, Detroit showcased its thriving downtown, with the towering presence of a nearly 700-foot structure emerging from the site of the historic Hudson’s store.

Dave Beachnau, the head of the Detroit Sports Commission, highlighted that the draft also provides essential funding for local nonprofit and community organizations, prompting reflection on what enduring legacies the event will leave behind once the NFL departs from the city.

Day One Pick Terrion Arnold

Following this record-breaking attendance, the Lions draft pick was Terrion Arnold coming from Alabama Crimson Tide. In the 2023 season, Terrion Arnold, demonstrated his versatility and impact across various facets of the game. Racking up a total of five interceptions, 17 passes defensed, a forced fumble, a sack, and 63 total tackles, including 6.5 for loss, Arnold emerged as a dominant force on the defensive side of the ball.

Arnold’s prowess also extended beyond his individual statistics, as evidenced by his exceptional performance in coverage. Over the course of 471 coverage snaps throughout the season, he held opposing quarterbacks to a passer rating of just 50.7, showcasing his ability to shut down passing lanes and limit big plays downfield. Furthermore, Arnold’s impact was not limited to his coverage skills alone, as he also proved to be a highly effective run defender. With a remarkable Pro Football Focus(PFF) run-defense grade of 90.6, Arnold consistently demonstrated his ability to disrupt opposing rushing attacks and make key stops in the backfield.

Arnold’s stellar performance throughout the 2023 season did not go unnoticed, earning him well-deserved recognition from both the media and analytics experts. Garnering first-team All-American honors from the Associated Press, Arnold solidified his status as one of the premier defensive players in the nation. Additionally, his impressive overall grade of 88.4 from PFF further underscored his impact and contributions to his team’s success. 

Second Day Pick Ennis Rakeshaw

The Lions’ newest addition, Rakestraw, boasts a versatile skill set suited for both zone and man coverage schemes, yet he strongly favors press man coverage, aligning well with the team’s preferences. With a background primarily on the outside, he’s demonstrated proficiency in slot coverage, indicating potential flexibility in his NFL role. Rakestraw’s arrival could provide the Lions with added depth and strategic options in their defensive lineup, potentially allowing their current nickel starter to take on more versatile matchups.

Rakestraw offers a candid assessment of his playing style, emphasizing his physicality, competitiveness, and love for tackling. While acknowledging the need to increase his ball production, he asserts confidence in his ability to judge the ball in flight and disrupt passes effectively. Known for his aggressive play, Rakestraw brings a fearless attitude to the field, delivering impactful hits and asserting his presence on every play.

In coverage, Rakestraw showcases patience and versatility, excelling particularly in press man situations. His adeptness at mirroring receivers, coupled with sharp change-of-direction skills, allows him to maintain tight coverage and minimize penalties. Despite occasional challenges with long speed, Rakestraw compensates with instincts, often positioning himself strategically to contest passes effectively.

While ball production remains an area for improvement, Rakestraw demonstrates promise in his ability to position himself for plays on the ball. With the guidance of NFL coaching, he has the potential to further enhance this aspect of his game. Notably, Rakestraw’s standout attribute lies in his run defense, where he exhibits exceptional instincts and tackling prowess. Quick to diagnose plays and unafraid to take on blockers, Rakestraw’s proficiency in run support sets him apart as one of the premier defenders in his class.

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