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What Happens Now: The Most Impacted NFL Teams

Will there be an NFL season? You can count on it. But here’s what’s on the line if the NFL doesn’t have its way.

What Happens Now: The Most Impacted NFL Teams

Estimated Reading Time: 10 Minutes

The coronavirus pandemic has affected all of our sports in many different ways. But that may also mean our sports come back…in very different ways and at very different times. The Turf is taking a look at all the major professional sports leagues, and how some teams can be significantly impacted by a potential season suspension. I am here to get you covered on the NFL.

What happens now? Well, when it comes to the NFL, I can only tell you what I think will happen, and that is…I think we will have a season. And, quite frankly, I wouldn’t be surprised if it started on time.

The NFL is a Different Beast

I’ve heard people say that they think the NFL season could be canceled or delayed. Really? We’re in May. The season doesn’t start until September. We are still SO very far away. And yes, I know time flies by and the season will be here before you know it. But we have to understand something about the NFL.

It is a different culture than other leagues.

The leadership is quite different. You don’t think Roger Goodell will do whatever it takes to have a full season? To protect that bottom line? We’re talking about a guy who had the NFL draft in HIS OWN BASEMENT. When owners said, “I don’t know about this, maybe we should at least postpone the draft”, Goodell basically shut that shit down and offered his own basement to still hold a draft that, surprisingly, was a pretty flawless production.

Do Not Fear Change

It was a great night. It was great for teams, great for the league, great for the players and the fans. You don’t think this guy will do whatever it takes to have a season? And remember this about the NFL…they aren’t the MLB. They aren’t a league that is afraid of change…afraid of evolution. The MLB will sit and ponder on a rule change for months and months and then never come back to it a 162-game season or so later….or never…or until Justin Verlander bitches about something else like he always does. (Sorry I am still fired up about the Astros). Wait…why am I apologizing? Like I always say, it’s nothing personal…it’s strictly sports.

But in all seriousness, the NFL will all of sudden make a rule change about one thing and then the next day they will come up with something else. They’ll even make a rule for one season and then say “well that didn’t work” and totally scrap it.

The bottom line is that the NFL is different. There isn’t a professional sports league quite like it. I think they will absolutely have a season. But let’s just pretend for a moment that there will NOT be a season. Which teams will be impacted the most by a suspended season? Here are five teams I think will be most impacted by a season suspension.

1. Carolina Panthers

The first team I immediately thought of when I decided to write this. New head coach, new offensive coordinator, new quarterback, new wide receiver, and practically a new offensive line. So, you don’t think the Panthers would be one of the more impacted teams? There’s an awful lot of “new” here. And this is a team who was 5-11 last season, hoping they would turn things around this season. Not to mention they are in arguably the toughest division in football now. Panthers are in a hole that they are trying to climb out of in the NFC South. But with a suspended season, that hole gets much tougher to climb out of.

2. Cleveland Browns

This is the “prove it” year for Baker Mayfield. He had a good rookie season but was shit in his second year. So what is Baker then?

I’ve always said if you ever have doubts about a young quarterback in the NFL, watch what they do in their third season. Peyton Manning was awful his rookie year. Then he turned it around in his second season. In his third season, Manning continued to play at a high level and went to his second straight pro bowl. From there, he would become one of the greatest regular season quarterbacks I’ve ever seen in my life.

Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota, both drafted first and second overall in 2015, respectively, had awful third seasons in their careers. As a matter of fact, Mariota threw more interceptions than touchdowns. Now they’re both back up quarterbacks…

If a quarterback doesn’t figure it out by the end of his third season, he most likely is not going to pan out to be the franchise guy. I think no season this year would be a terrible thing for Mayfield because this is such an important year for his career.

Browns Have New Leadership

In addition, the Browns also have a new head coach who’s young and doesn’t have head coaching experience in the NFL. A lost season could definitely impact Kevin Stefanski and his coaching staff big time. Especially when you have a locker room full of big personalities. Speaking of which…

The Clock is Ticking on OBJ in Cleveland

I think this is a legitimate question: How much longer is Odell Beckham Jr. going to be in Cleveland? I don’t think for much longer. That whole Baker-OBJ connection that Browns fans have been salivating for over the past two years…it is slowly dissipating, but a suspended season only expedites that further. I don’t think OBJ is going to be in Cleveland much longer, so it would be a shame if there was no season.

Could Myles Garrett Have an Even Longer Suspension?

A suspended season also prevents Myles Garrett from coming back from his indefinite suspension that caused him to miss six games last season. So Cleveland’s best defensive player will not have played a game for about a year and a half if the season were to be suspended. That’s big.

Seeing how the Browns have the tendency to be dysfunctional and full of shenanigans, a suspended season may be a rough thing for them to overcome.

3. New Orleans Saints

This would be the cherry on top for the Saints if they were not able to play a season. This is a team whose Super Bowl window is closing fast and in the past three playoffs they have lost in some seriously heartbreaking, bizarre fashion. Not to mention, Drew Brees isn’t getting any younger. He even has a gig lined up after he retires. The Saints are chomping at the bit to get another shot in the playoffs before Brees retires so if there was no season, it would be absolutely devastating for the Saints. Tough luck yet again for one of the most talented rosters in football.

4. Dallas Cowboys

A suspended season would be major for the Cowboys. This was the year where Dallas was going to evaluate Dak Prescott to determine whether they want to pay him or not. But if there is no season, then what? What do the Cowboys do? Would Dak ever play another game in a Dallas uniform?

In addition, the Cowboys lost some key players this offseason. Byron Jones left for the Dolphins, team leader in sacks Robert Quinn left for the Bears, Jason Witten and Maliek Collins went to the Raiders, Randall Cobb went to the Texans, and star center Travis Frederick retired. Let’s also throw in new head coach Mike McCarthy and recently drafted CeeDee Lamb, a top receiver prospect in the draft. But how will he develop in his rookie year with no season? What if Dak isn’t even the quarterback by the time he plays?

Again there is a lot of new, and a lot of personnel turnover in the Cowboys organization. A suspended season would only delay the building of chemistry and camaraderie among players and coaches in that locker room. And quite frankly, we don’t even know what’s going to happen with Dak.

Big Dollars, Lost Production

DeMarcus Lawrence – five years, $105 million

Ezekiel Elliott – six years, $90 million

Amari Cooper – five years, $100 million

That’s a lot of money dished out to a few good players. And losing a season’s-worth of their production would be significant. Especially Zeke who, as a running back, doesn’t have as much career longevity.

The Cowboys (or should I really say, Dak) have been buzzed about all offseason. Please football Gods…give us a season so I don’t have another full year of listening to the constant contemplation on whether Dak should get paid or not.

5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

This is an easy one. The Bucs are in win-now mode, and a lost season with the GOAT on your roster would be absolutely devastating for Tampa. Think of all the people who went out to get season tickets because of the arrival of Tom Brady. Not to mention, this year’s Super Bowl is going to be in Tampa Bay. A suspended season for the Bucs is a big blow both on and off the field. Can I also add that Gronk’s retirement may last longer than he anticipated?

Honorable Mentions

Ok I couldn’t resist. Here are some other teams who could be significantly impacted by a suspended season.

  1. Washington Redskins – This was the year where they were going to evaluate Dwayne Haskins. If there is no season, then what? Who will be their quarterback? A decision that gets delayed further due to a lost season. Not to mention a new head coach in Ron Rivera who is trying to turn an organization around gets his plans put on hold.
  2. Cincinnati Bengals – Joe Burrow’s rookie year gets pushed back a year and that isn’t good for a young kid who has been playing his best football. It might be more difficult for him to get adjusted to the pro level; especially under a young, unproven second-year head coach. It also doesn’t help that he’s in a division that arguably has the best defensive lines in football. Burrow is the one rookie QB we know would start Week 1.
  3. Green Bay Packers – A season is wasted and it is just one step closer to Aaron Rodgers getting out of dodge.
  4. Jacksonville Jaguars – They already have a tough time getting fans to their games. This is the year when the Jaguars are supposed to find out if Gardner Minshew is their guy or not. And if there is no season, that means NO LONDON GAMES! What will the Jaguars do?!
  5. San Francisco 49ers – Their redemption tour gets delayed. Can that defense bounce back as strong as they were this past season if there is no season this year? The Niners are chomping at the bit to get back to the Super Bowl.

Matt lives in Newnan, Georgia but was born and raised in Upstate New York. He is a fan of the New York Yankees, New York Rangers, Pittsburgh Steelers, and Boston Celtics. At the collegiate level, he is a Notre Dame and Syracuse fan (yeah he can root for both, and what?!) He must, however, find a soccer team to root for. So him out there. All suggestions are welcome. You can catch Matt on the Turf mostly covering NFL, NBA, MLB, College Football and Basketball, and Horse Racing (that is not a typo, he practically grew up on a racetrack). It's nothing's strictly sports.

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