Whose NFL futures outlook improved after the first wave of free agency?
Today, we’re looking at 6 teams, all of whom had differing results in 2020, whose futures outlook just went through the roof after the first wave of NFL free agency.
These teams either pulled off a few blockbuster trades, signed the right guys, or even instituted a hybrid of signings and trades.
Some teams listed still have a few puzzle pieces to go. But after the first wave of the free agent frenzy, they’re in prime position to better their odds in every cluster of the NFL futures realm.
Below, you’ll find 3 teams from the AFC and 3 from the NFC poised to better their odds. Let’s talk about them.
1. New England Patriots
It was laughable when the Patriots re-signed Cam Newton. And it wouldn’t surprise if they still drafted a quarterback. Then they went out and signed Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry. So much for Newton’s mediocre production in 2020. And now it made complete sense why they brought him back for 2021.
Newton thrives when he can throw to tight ends. Something he didn’t have in 2020, where the Patriots’ tight ends combined for just 1 touchdown, the lowest in the league.
However, it doesn’t stop there. They traded for offensive tackle Trent Brown in a deal with the Las Vegas Raiders. Then, they went out and brought back center Ted Karras after he took his talents to South Beach for a season.
They also snagged back Kyle Van Noy from the Dolphins, and supplemented it with Matthew Judon and Raekwon McMillan, another former Dolphin.
Winning the East won’t come as easy, but once again, the Patriots have become a reasonable team to place a futures bet on.
2. Cleveland Browns
The Cleveland Browns finished 11-5 in 2020 and won a playoff game for the first time in almost 3 decades. However, even after a 12-6 finish counting playoffs, they still allowed more points than they scored. And the offense was one of the league’s better units.
It showed just how bad their defense had gotten. So, instead of waiting for the NFL Draft, they fixed it immediately, adding Troy Hill and John Johnson, both of whom were teammates with the Los Angeles Rams.
A team who had the best overall defense in 2020. They re-signed Malcolm Smith, then snagged Malik Jackson.
It’s premature to believe that a team who finished third in their respective division will now take the AFC North Crown and become the favorite in terms of futures betting. However, the Browns, barring anything unforeseen, should become a more popular futures bet in 2021 because of the improvements.
3. Kansas City Chiefs
A team who has become perhaps the most popular futures bet in the NFL will once again keep their popularity. For a minute, it appeared the Chiefs would take a step back after they got rid of Eric Fisher and Mitchell Schwartz, 2 kingpins along the offensive line.
And 2 stalwarts they sorely missed in the Super Bowl, when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers thrashed them 31 to 9.
Then, they went out and upgraded the unit, signing the recently unretired Kyle Long and nabbing Pro Bowl guard, Joe Thuney.
So much for taking the infamous step back. The Chiefs didn’t need to do much more, so they rounded out the first wave by signing a few role players to provide depth.
4. Washington Football Team
Perhaps no one on today’s list did more to solidify their futures outlook than the Washington Football Team. The Football Team needed a quarterback, but as Alex Smith proved in 2020, no one special.
Enter the journeyman of journeymen, Ryan Fitzpatrick, who finally has a chance after a 16-year career playing for about a quarter of the league’s teams to lead a franchise to the playoffs. And he’ll have a lot of help in Washington, a team that has seen little success over the past 3 decades.
It seems like everything is changing with the franchise. From the culture to the name, and now, the on-field product. Plus those beautiful, old-school uniforms with the numbers on the side of the helmet.
They re-signed Pro Bowl guard Brandon Scherff, inked serviceable corner William Jackson III, and brought in Curtis Samuel, who is a perfect fit for having played for head coach Ron Rivera in the past.
Sure, any time we look at the NFC East, we always hold a pro-Dallas Cowboys bias. Unless you want nothing to do with ‘America’s Team.’ And sure, the Cowboys are a legitimate futures bet here with Dak Prescott returning.
However, Washington has made it loud and clear that they’re ready to repeat as NFC East Champions for the first time in nearly 4 decades, since the 1983 and 1984 seasons.
That’s a dangerous football team.
5. Carolina Panthers
Okay, so the Panthers probably aren’t the best futures bets in 2021 to win the NFC South. Then again, neither were the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who won the Super Bowl. However, the Panthers just got a major boost when Drew Brees called it quits and the Saints lost a few key players.
However, the Panthers helped themselves in free agency. They solidified the offensive line by signing Cam Erving, franchising Taylor Moton, and bringing in Pat Elflein. Carolina added a legitimate pass rusher in Haason Reddick plus a serviceable tight end in Dan Arnold.
The recent signings point to the team probably trading up to draft a quarterback in either the Justin Fields or Trey Lance mold. And the way things look, head coach Matt Rhule wants his new quarterback to start from Day One.
Add in the fact Christian McCaffrey should return along with a dynamic receiving unit that features D. J. Moore and Robby Anderson, and the Panthers will do some damage in the NFC South. They’re not the most reasonable futures bet, but they make for a decent high-risk, high-reward bet.
6. Arizona Cardinals
The Arizona Cardinals surprised the NFL in 2020 when they jumped out to a 5-2 start and ended up contending for a playoff spot. While they collapsed and finished 8-8, they showed just how close they were to contention.
In 2021, the Cardinals have told the NFL Universe they’re all in, signing aging but solid players like J. J. Watt and A. J. Green. They also traded for former All-Pro center, Rodney Hudson and re-signed Kelvin Beachum to solidify a leaky offensive line just a season ago.
The Cardinals have plugged most of their areas of need with seasoned veterans, leaving them to fill the rest of the gaps in the NFL Draft.
Like the Panthers, however, the Cardinals figure to be a high-risk, high-reward bet, given the tenacity of the NFC West. The Los Angeles Rams are banking on new quarterback Matthew Stafford, the Seattle Seahawks are always dangerous, and the San Francisco 49ers also had a good first wave.
Regardless of who you bet in the NFC West, it shouldn’t surprise you regardless of who takes the division, given the division’s sheer talent.
Just Missed the Cut
The Pittsburgh Steelers looked bleak just one month ago. However, now they’ll still figure to be popular futures bets given the return of cornerstones Ben Roethlisberger and JuJu Smith-Schuster.
If there is one other team in the AFC who did themselves favors in the futures realm, it’s the Steelers. At least, for one more season.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers can become the first team this decade to repeat as Super Bowl Champions and the first since 2003-2004 when Tom Brady’s Patriots did it.
They re-signed and have kept most of their key players from a season ago.
And now, with a year of experience playing under Tom Brady, the Buccaneers figure to once again contend for more than just a Super Bowl Championship. They’re favored to do so while doubling as NFC South Champions.
The 6 teams listed plus the 2 honorable mentions may or may not win you money if you engage in futures betting. However, they have increased their odds in virtually every sector.
- Win-loss Over/Under
- Division Championship
- Conference Championship
- Super Bowl Championship
Are you a fan of anyone on today’s list, or do you have someone in mind that we didn’t mention? Tell us who you’re thinking of wagering on and at which NFL betting sites in the comments. We’re looking forward to reading your input.