For the past few weeks, there have been loads of speculation and rumors on what is going to happen once the league year starts March 18. The media has discussed who will be the starting quarterback of the Colts, what is the direction of the Jacksonville Jaguars, what will the Texans do to get them in the Super Bowl conversation and will the Tennessee Titans be able to repeat what they did last year. But no one has talked about what teams shouldn’t do this offseason. It is important to note what teams shouldn’t do this offseason if they want to fulfill their mission of either becoming a playoff team/Super Bowl contender or start their rebuild correctly. This is a list of what the AFC South teams shouldn’t do this offseason.
Houston Texans: Not adding another pass catcher in the draft
The Houston Texans were one of the most slept on teams in the NFL. The Texans had the best receiver in the league, one of the best young quarterbacks and one of the disruptive defensive forces in the league when healthy. This year was the first time in a while where the Texans prioritized their offense and it played at a higher level than their defense.
With no general manager the Texans did an excellent job rebuilding this offensive line and turning it from a group where an average NFL fan couldn’t name two of their starters to one of the better young lines in the league. They drafted Tytus Howard and Max Scharping early and traded for Laremy Tunsil. These moves advanced the Texans to the divisional round of the playoffs, but after failing to advance past that, the Texans still have work to do. The Texans’ major needs coming into the offseason are at cornerback, running back and nose tackle.
The Texans addressed their two biggest needs re-signing Bradley Roby and trading for David Johnson. But now the Texans have a raging gap at wide receiver after trading DeAndre Hopkins (and a fourth-round pick) for David Johnson (and a second-round pick and fourth in 2021). Even after adding Randall Cobb the Texans still need another pass catcher.
The Texans receiving core is made up of Randall Cobb, Kenny Stills, Will Fuller and Keke Coutee as Deshaun Watson’s targets in 2020. Cobb has never been a number one receiver and none of those are number one options or reliable receivers that can stay healthy. Deshaun Watson should be furious his head coach just traded away his number one receiver for a running back who is deemed washed up and out of his prime. The Texans need to get their hands on an actual number one receiver for Watson or else they are going to regress a significant amount as a team.
Indianapolis Colts: Not bring in a young quarterback to be second or third on the depth chart
It seems like at some point every free-agent quarterback has been linked to the Indianapolis Colts. Now this is not an insult to Jacoby Brissett, he had a decent year after being named the starter late in the preseason. But this roster was built for a franchise quarterback to lead them to the Super Bowl. The Colts have a great foundation, but cannot do much without an almost elite level quarterback at the helm. One that can go for 350 years and three touchdowns on any given night. That being said the Colts will evaluate the quarterback market heavily and bring in a player they feel can do just that.
The Colts have signed Philip Rivers to a one-year, $25 million deal. Once the Colts traded the 13th overall pick for DeForest Buckner, it seemed likely that the Colts would go with a veteran quarterback. The Colts have a surplus of draft picks which means the Colts could select a younger quarterback to have on the depth chart. This being said if the Colts were to draft a quarterback they have to make sure he potentially has a high enough ceiling to be a starter. If the Colts do not add a quarterback, they would have no quarterbacks on their 2021 roster once free agency hits. Chris Ballard is a smart general manager and knows how to make the most of his draft selections and gameplan for the long term future. His team also has another year until they really have to consider breaking apart this talented roster in order to pay the foundation pieces.Ballard could only realistically consider drafting Jacob Eason or Jalen Hurts with their first draft pick in the second round. After a year or two of sitting, one of them could be the future starter of the Indianapolis Colts.
Jacksonville Jaguars: Get cold feet about blowing up the roster
The only team who have been consistently in the headlines since the end of the regular season besides the New England Patriots and Dallas Cowboys has been the Jacksonville Jaguars. This hasn’t been for positive reasons. The Jaguars’ headlines all have to do with the fact that they are trying to blow up the roster. They have traded away AJ Bouye to the Broncos, Calais Campbell to the Ravens and Nick Foles to the Bears. These two can be added to the names Jalen Ramsey and Dante Fowler Jr. who were also great players for the Jaguars’ defense in 2017. Actually Abry Jones and Myles Jack are the only two defensive starters still on the team from that elite ‘Sacksonville’ defense.
Their other biggest headline is Yannick Ngakoue. He has made it public that he does not want to return to the team. He doesn’t want his prime play to be with a team looking to rebuild, which is fair. Unfortunately for him at the young age of 24, the Jaguars can view him as the future or a face of the franchise. The smart thing to do though would be to move Ngakoue for the most value that they can. As pass rushers gets signed and time goes by Ngakoue is going to keep tweeting and making it known he will not play for Duval in 2020. This is the way the league has turned, where players have leverage over teams, because of their social media presence. The Jaguars should trade Ngakoue while his value is at his highest. They could easily get two high draft picks for Ngakoue if they move him right now.
Along with Ngakoue, the Jaguars should trade away veterans like Andrew Norwell Brandon Linder, if they can. The Jaguars have already traded away two of their best defensive players this offseason in AJ Bouye and Calais Campbell, so why not fully commit to breaking down the entire roster? There should be very few untouchables on their roster including last year’s first-rounder Josh Allen, Gardner Minshew and DJ Chark. If the Jaguars are fully committed to rebuilding from the ground up they should trade arguably their defensive player, Ngakoue, and even explore moving Leonard Fournette while his value is high.
Tennessee Titans: Not build upon last years roster
The Tennessee Titans were the NFL’s cinderella story last season. Sneaking into the NFL playoffs at 9-7 the Titans rode Derrick Henry past the New England Patriots and Baltimore Ravens. The difference for the team late in the stretch was that Ryan Tannehill started games and was efficient. He played well enough to stretch the field so that way Henry can dominate. The Titans’ defense also stepped up after first-rounder Jeffery Simmons joined the team.
This offseason, arguably their two best offensive players were hitting the market in Tannehill and Henry. Along with them, right tackle Jack Conklin was also an impending free agent. Conklin was bound to hit the open market and get big money which he did by signing with the Cleveland Browns. The Titans did lock up the other to two free agents though. Tannehill signed a four-year, $118 million extension and Henry received the franchise tag after not being able to come to an agreement on a long term deal. The Titans even re-signed swing tackle Dennis Kelly to a three-year, $21 million deal. Kelly will likely be the teams starting right tackle next season. They also signed Vic Beasley to a low-risk, high reward deal.
After the Titans made those moves they should not be finished. The Titans snuck into the playoffs at 9-7, after starting 2-4. Don’t expect the Titans to be as bad as they were early on into last year, but teams will place more emphasis on Henry and force Tannehill to throw against them. The Titans should build upon this roster, especially on defense. The Titans have $22 million left in cap space. Tennessee is in need of a replacement for Jurrell Casey, an offensive guard and a slot corner (if Logan Ryan signs elsewhere). Last year was the Titans’ coming out party, now they should build upon last year’s team and try to assemble a roster who can make it to the Super Bowl.