Free agency is done. The draft picks have been submitted and signed. The last major changes team rosters will see this offseason is the 53-man cut after training camp.
NFL team’s rosters are all but finalized, and this is probably the most competitive the NFL has ever been. Almost every team in the league has a legitimate playoff aspiration this year. The difference between a wild-card team and a division champion is minuscule. Every game will be must-watch television, except, of course, the primetime games.
So with only a few weeks left before training camp and about a month left until the preseason, we wanted to break down which of the rosters are the best in the league. As a fun exercise to go with that, we also figured out which rosters are the worst in the league.
Disagree? Agree? Let me know down in the comments! Tell me which rosters are better/worse than the ones below.
Fifth Best: Baltimore Ravens
This spot actually changed a few times when researching for this article, but typically bounced between two rosters. The Tennessee Titans have a legitimate claim to this spot, and I would not disagree if someone else put them here. Julio Jones, Derrick Henry, AJ Brown, and Ryan Tannehill is a solid offense that is going to score points fairly regularly.
However, what ultimately put the Ravens ahead of the Titans was the other half of the game: defense. Outside of Bud Dupree, the Titans’ defense lacks the high-caliber defensive stars that Baltimore boasts. Marcus Peters, Marlon Humphrey, Patrick Queen, Derek Wolfe. It is not as good as the Ravens’ teams of the past, but it can still cause problems.
Plus, offensively they surpass the Titans’ lineup. Lamar Jackson is a more useful weapon than Ryan Tannehill. Mark Andrews is a better target than AJ Brown, while Marquise Brown and Sammy Watkins spread the defense better than the Titans’ receiving group. The only two players on the Titans’ offense that are inarguably better than their respective Ravens’ players are Derrick Henry and Julio Jones, but the extra weapons on the Baltimore Ravens’ offense make up for that.
Maybe that talent can make it past the divisional round this year.
Fifth Worst: Philadelphia Eagles
I have never seen a team implode after a Super Bowl trophy quite as the Eagles did. At least when the Broncos imploded, they could blame it on the retirement of Peyton Manning. What do the Eagles have to blame?
It makes sense what happened to the Eagles. Nick Foles won that Super Bowl and handled the playoffs. You do not just let your Super Bowl hero go, and you do not disrespect him. He had looked great under the Andy Reid system before Philadelphia, so he should succeed in any system, right?
The miracle that is Big Trick Nick derailed this franchise, and it will take quite a bit to get it back on the tracks.
Fourth Best: Los Angeles Rams
I know I spent the introduction going over how the league was so close and extremely competitive. I do think that this year could easily feature very new faces in the championship games. However, the difference between the fifth and fourth-best teams is significant. My top four have not changed from the moment I first started work on this article for that reason.
The Los Angeles Rams fixed the worst part of their roster this offseason when they shipped Jared Goff to Detroit for Matthew Stafford. The Rams offense immediately became the talk of football fans, and rightfully so. Stafford highlights the strengths of every player around him in LA and should be everyone’s front runner for MVP.
Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp, and Desean Jackson with the freedom to go down the field! Tyler Higbee without the check-down responsibilities! Cam Akers not breaking his back because he had to carry the team!
Aaron Donald and company getting more rest between drives because of a competent game manager in Matthew Stafford! Sean Mcvay being able to scheme up and design plays without having to account for the limitations of Jared Goff!
The Rams make the giddy football fan inside of me so excited for September.
Fourth Worst: New York Jets
The New York Jets are significantly better this year than they were last year. However, that is not saying much, is it?
Robert Saleh inherited a team that has been broken and abused by its former coaching staff. The effect Adam Gase had on the Jets will likely never be undone. He should have never been made the head coach, but NY put him in any way, and you get what you deserve.
Zach Wilson is reportedly not doing well during his early reps with the team, which would be concerning if he had anybody worthwhile to throw at. Sure, they started the process of assembling an offensive line to protect him, but eventually, that ball has to leave the pocket and go to a receiver. Those receivers have to be worth something, or a defender is stealing that ball.
Maybe the Jets’ like being New England’s little brother.
Third Best: Cleveland Browns
I never thought that I would get to say that the Browns are Super Bowl contenders in my lifetime. It has been said on an episode of my podcast, Go Run A Route, that the Browns were one-stop on fourth and one away from a Super Bowl trophy. I do not doubt that this team beats the Bills in the AFC Championship and they torch the Bucs on the ground in the Super Bowl.
The weakest part of the team is probably opposite of Myles Garrett on the defensive line, which they should have fixed in the draft. Christian Barmore was right there for the taking, but they passed him up for Greg Newsome. Sure, Newsome is going to be a vital part of that offense from day one, but the ability to dominate the line of scrimmage defensively would have made them my number one teams in the AFC. Although, without him, they remain one of the best rosters in football.
They did steal Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah in the second round, which is going to be a huge addition to the team as well. Thanks to a decent schedule, a weak division, and a fantastic coach, the Browns could most definitely be hosting an AFC Championship game in January. Especially if they can stay healthy this season.
Just look out for those bootleg passes on fourth and one.
Third Worst: Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jaguars were handed two of the best offensive players in this year’s draft and still may manage to fumble it. Urban Meyer is already making a mess in the Jaguars office building. Travis Etienne is apparently being moved out to wide receiver. Trevor Lawrence is going to be protected by one of the sketchiest front fives in football. Meanwhile, the Jacksonville Jaguars on sitting on an insane amount of unused cap space.
Besides Josh Allen, there is not a defensive player on the roster that is not completely expendable. Myles Jack is the second-best player on that defense, and his best trait is his ability to start fights. If the culture down in Jacksonville was not absolute garbage, they may be able to bring in some remaining free agents, like Richard Sherman and Melvin Ingram, but no player wants to go play for Urban Meyer.
Maybe Shad Khan can call up his sons and try and get some of those wrestlers to fill the empty spots.
Second Best: Kansas City Chiefs
The rich got richer this offseason, and the Kansas City Chiefs may have one of their best rosters in franchise history in 2021. That completely rebuilt the offensive line. Those steals in the late rounds of the draft. That stupidly favorable trade with Baltimore.
How does a team with the best quarterback, the best tight end, a top-five wide receiver, a top-five defensive tackle, a top-five safety, another top ten safety, the best offensive coordinator, and the best head coach in football get even better? How do the football gods even allow that?
Their biggest flaw is their secondary, but with the addition of Mike Hughes, the long term signing of Tyrann Mathieu, a full offseason for L’jarius Sneed, and time for Juan Thornhill to get healthy, they could just decide to overcome that, as they do anytime anyone questions their ability.
The Kansas City dynasty is here, whether you want to admit it or not.
Second Worst: Detroit Lions
You are not the new Cleveland Browns, Detroit. No, you are something much, much worse.
I want to try and say something favorable about you, but… I go blank. You made the worst head coaching hire. Then, you made the most lopsided trade for the face of your franchise. There is also the part where you let anyone with talent leave in free agency. What do you have left, Deandre Swift? This is likely one of the worst rosters in Detroit Lion history, and that is saying something.
At least you drafted Penei Sewell, but if you screwed that up, you should not have been allowed to play this season.
There are no jokes to end this segment, just pain.
The Best: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
I mean, what do you want me to say? You won a Super Bowl, handily, and then retained all of your starters.
Could you have drafted better? Absolutely. Do you have a pending money problem coming? Yes. Are you prepared for the post-Brady era that may be closer than you think? No.
However, I am not talking about the long-term success or what the Bucanneers’ roster of the future looks like. I am talking about the Buccaneers in 2021, and unless someone else proves they are better than the defending Super Bowl champions, they deserve to be crowned the best in the league.
Brady vs. Mahomes is going to be the Super Bowl for the next three years, but hopefully, they get more competitive next time.
The Worst: Houston Texans
The Houston Texans do not have a single positive on their roster. They could play at 100% every week, with every player going all out, and still go 0-17. Anything and everything that could go wrong for the Texans has gone wrong for the Texans.
Deshaun Watson could be playing, and this is still a bottom five roster, that is how terrible every part of this roster is. But, for multiple reasons, Deshaun Watson is not playing, and that leaves Houston as the worst roster in the league by a wide margin.
It was not all Bill O’Brien’s fault, although he sure helped, and now, thanks to poor management, this team will never be anywhere near relevant again. Delete the franchise, put a team in Tulsa, forget that the Texans ever existed.
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