NFL futures outlooks vary like none other between the eve of the New League Year and following the first week of free agency. The frenzy that takes place is among the most entertaining events of the NFL offseason, second only to the NFL Draft.
In fact, many of us pay more attention to it than March Madness. Today’s post covers 6 NFL teams whose futures outlook declined after the first week of free agency. Now, there are many teams that we can add to this list. However, I’ve only listed teams whose futures outlook before free agency looked at least somewhat favorable for 2021.
Therefore, you won’t see teams with expansion team talent like the Philadelphia Eagles or Houston Texans. Instead, you’ll find teams who would otherwise figure to contend. Let’s get started and figure out which teams may be wise to pursue and which to potentially avoid at the NFL betting sites.
1. Miami Dolphins
In all honesty, the Miami Dolphins did nothing wrong. In fact, they did a lot of good, surrounding quarterback Tua Tagovailoa with yet another few puzzle pieces which should allow him to cook in 2021.
Problem is, the Buffalo Bills remain the favorites to once again take the AFC East, and the New England Patriots had arguably the best free agency period in the league. At least after the initial wave of free agency.
That leaves the Dolphins as the odd team out. And while they still figure to be a good bet for the Over/Under, their chances of anything else, even a playoff berth, appear weak. It’s the case of being a good football team in a competitive division, and that will underwhelm their futures outlook.
Barring an outstanding draft class, the Dolphins probably won’t finish any higher than third in the AFC East in 2021. This gives them a slim chance at making the playoffs. If you’re a conservative bettor, it’s best to only consider them for the Over/Under unless you have a lot of faith.
2. Baltimore Ravens
Like the Dolphins, the Ravens stood pat in free agency. Unfortunately, they also play in the same division as the Cleveland Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers. For a second, I thought I’d put Pittsburgh here. But after Ben Roethlisberger restructured his deal and JuJu Smith-Schuster re-signed, the honor went to the Ravens.
Also, the Cleveland Browns hit hard on improving one of the league’s worst defenses from a season ago, signing 2 phenomenal defensive backs from the Los Angeles Rams.
On paper, the Browns may actually be the safest futures bet in the AFC North in 2021, especially after they exorcised the demon known as the Pittsburgh Steelers that had haunted them for the greater part of 2 decades. That leaves the Ravens, who have yet to sign or draft a legit WR1 for quarterback Lamar Jackson.
And if 2020 serves as an indicator, it shows how much help Jackson needs in the passing game. Opponents caught onto Jackson’s ability to make plays with his legs and his numbers stagnated at times.
The Ravens also lost a key defensive starter in Matthew Judon. And, along with losing running back Mark Ingram, they may also see a dent in their old school, run-first style on offense. Unless the Ravens plan on taking the Woody Hayes “three yards and a cloud of dust” approach in 2021, they’re in trouble.
Unless they add help in the passing game via the NFL Draft.
3. Dallas Cowboys
The Dallas Cowboys had one of the worst defenses in football in 2020 and come free agency, did nothing to improve the unit. Now, the Cowboys must rebuild the porous defense through the NFL Draft if they have any hope of contending with the mighty Washington Football Team.
The Cowboys are a risk all over the futures board, including something as simple as the Over/Under. Not that the Cowboys will tank, given their talent on offense. But as well as their offense was before Dak Prescott’s injury in 2020, it still wasn’t enough to overcome the defense’s abysmal performance.
Unless the Cowboys have a monster draft, they are a hard team to place a futures bet on. Sadly, this team is often overrated, considering their status as “America’s Team.” Don’t buy into the hype unless you have an unbiased faith in the Cowboys.
The Washington Football Team and even the New York Giants look like better options on paper right now.
4. Chicago Bears
The Chicago Bears reportedly tried to trade for Russell Wilson before they finally settled on Andy Dalton. Okay, seriously, Andy Dalton?
Hey, at least Mitchell Trubisky, now a backup in Buffalo on a one-year deal, knew the system. Andy Dalton, at this time in his career, is nothing more than a high-end backup, if that. Dalton has done nothing of worth in the NFL since his first 5 seasons in the league.
He is 0-5 in the playoffs and proved himself as an incapable starter in 2020 as a member of the Dallas Cowboys. If the Bears even signed someone like Ryan Fitzpatrick, they would have avoided this list. But don’t expect Andy Dalton to take this team anywhere.
Like Dallas, it’s even a risk to bet the Over/Under here. Save yourself heartache, and look toward either the Green Bay Packers or Minnesota Vikings. On paper, and perhaps even in practice, they’re far better options to place your faith in than the Chicago Bears.
It’s sad that the Bears couldn’t trade for Wilson, as they would have graced the list of ‘NFL Teams Whose Futures Outlook Improved After the First Wave of Free Agency.’ Now, they’re nothing more than improving their odds at garnering a top-10 pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.
Unless they’re throwing a massive smokescreen and are engaging in talks with other teams to trade up and draft one of the 5 marquee quarterbacks in April’s Draft. If that’s the case, the Bears may have hope.
5. Seattle Seahawks
With the brewing Russell Wilson saga, we must question whether it will affect the Seattle Seahawks on the field. So far, Wilson has supposedly not demanded a trade and wants to remain a Seahawk. Let’s go with the flow and assume the media is correct.
Either way, how will this team function in 2021 knowing that their quarterback was at least involved in trade talks with the Chicago Bears? Is it a harbinger of things to come for 2021?
Ironically, it should be the least of the Seahawks’ worries. They had among the league’s worst defensive units in 2020. And while they won the NFC West, they were one-and-done in the playoffs. Worse yet, they lost their best defensive back in Shaquill Griffin to the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Yeah, the 1-15 Jacksonville Jaguars. That should show just how much things have deteriorated in Seattle.
But even the porous defense doesn’t top the list of the Seahawks’ worries. They’re also playing in the NFL’s most competitive division, where every team can win the West. Are the Seahawks the weak link, considering the Wilson Saga and their defense?
Not that it’s a bad idea to place a futures bet on the Seahawks. With Wilson at quarterback and Pete Carroll at head coach, they’re still a solid football team. But if they finish 8-8 and miss the playoffs, or even fall short of their Over/Under, don’t let it upset you.
6. New Orleans Saints
The Saints were the shoo-in here, considering the retirement of Drew Brees. And for the first time in 15 seasons, they don’t have a franchise quarterback. They also lost a few solid pieces from their 2020 team and their best player over the past 7 seasons, Michael Thomas, experienced a massive setback.
They also have dirty egos on the team like C.J. Gardner-Johnson, who always finds a way to pick fights with opponents.
Add to the fact that Drew Brees is looking forward to watching a quarterback competition erupt between Taysom Hill and Jameis Winston, the Saints are at their most vulnerable point since 2005.
Sure, it’s still a good football team, with centerpiece Alvin Kamara running the show on offense. But it looks like the Saints will threaten to return to their former status as the ‘Aints.
Clearly, the Saints are no longer the safest team to place a futures bet in any category. Plus, with the Atlanta Falcons and Carolina Panthers looking to draft their next franchise quarterback, the Saints may return to the doldrums once more.
Hopefully this time around, it won’t be for a 40-season drought.
These 6 teams in the NFL aren’t the worst teams on which to place a futures bet. However, if you place a bet on any of the above teams in every category, exercise cautious optimism. They can still shock the NFL Universe, but the odds are stacked against them after the first wave of free agency.
Which teams do you think declined in their futures outlook following the first wave of free agency? Let us know in the comments and share your opinion.