Teams like the Broncos, Seahawks, and Falcons made big moves by both securing their own players and signing big names. All three teams have one thing in common: the luxury of having played football in 2013, signifying their spots in last season’s playoffs. While those squads certainly have their own storylines that merit further examination, of equal interest is the moves of non-playoff teams. Let’s look at three teams that didn’t exactly have successful years, and while we’re at it why not throw in premature judgment and sure-to-be-proven-wrong assumptions.
The Browns were one of the first teams to capitalize on the Baltimore Ravens’ fire sale, securing pass-rush specialist Paul Kruger to a long-term deal. They also brought on a promising young talent in Desmond Bryant, a versatile defensive end who quietly made a name for himself in Oakland. Despite a lack of significant moves on the offensive side of the ball, as well as a quarterback slot currently filled by aging second-year player Brandon Weeden, the Browns have a new head coach and offensive coordinator who will look to turn around the inconsistent Cleveland offense.
Premature assumptions: The Browns have the makings of a solid defense and should certainly make some major strides, but Cleveland appears to be a season away from becoming a viable contender in the AFC.
Miami established itself as the big man in the NFL Offseason “Club”, making it rain on marginally-sought-after free agents from the get-go. The Dolphins snagged linebackers Dannell Ellerbe and Philip Wheeler, receiver Mike Wallace from the Steelers, and also managed to land tight end Dustin Keller. The Ellerbe, Wheeler, and Wallace contracts are all for five years, and all three are back-loaded to ensure that Miami can continue their free agent splurge.
Premature assumptions: The consensus around the league points to Miami overpaying almost every player, but only time will tell. Second-year QB Ryan Tannehill’s progression will play a big part in determining where the Dolphins will go from here.
Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs gave hope to their 2013 offensive by bringing back in-house players Dwyane Bowe and Branden Albert, while also snatching QB Alex Smith from the 49ers. On the defensive side, KC signed cornerbacks Sean Smith and Dunta Robinson to give themselves a potentially formidable secondary. Throw in new Head Coach Andy Reid and it is nearly impossible to speculate on what the 2013 Chiefs will look like. Kansas City was frequently mentioned as one of the severe underachievers of last year, so with some crucial re-signings and helpful free agent additions, the Chiefs have every reason to be optimistic about the coming season.
Premature Assumptions: It’s easy to play the what-if game, and that’s all that can be done with a Chiefs team that sports a new QB, head coach, and offensive/defensive system. On paper, though, Kansas City has the potential to be a surprise contender in 2013.