With free agency all but finished this year I wanted to take a first look at the teams that gained and lost the most snaps this year in free agency. This gives us an idea both about continuity on a team as well as how much immediate help the teams will be looking for in the draft and then when the non-compensatory period of free agency opens up in a few weeks.
The average team this year dropped 6,259 snaps from their roster- 2,918 on offense and 3,341 on defense. That doesn’t mean that all of these players were signed just that they are no longer on the team in 2021.
The Chargers lead the way with 9,615 snaps lost. The team dropped Hunter Henry, Sam Tevi, Rayshawn Jenkins, Casey Heyward, Dan Feeney, Melvin Ingram, Forrest Lamp and a whole host of other players. The team looks to be building a new unit around their young quarterback with nearly 6,000 offensive snaps lost.
The Lions, who traded away Matt Stafford, ranked 2nd with 9,580 snaps lost this year. With a new GM and staff this was to be expected. The team lost Marvin Jones, Kenny Golladay, Duron Harmon, Danny Amendola, Danny Shelton, and a host of other players.
The Cardinals, who have always been near the top of this list for the last few years, continue to tinker with the team, dropping 8.920 snaps, over 5,300 of them on defense. Patrick Peterson and Haason Reddick led the way for the defensive changes.
The other teams with over 8,000 snaps dropped included the Titans, Bengals and Jets.
The most continuity belongs to the Buccaneers who lost just 1,317 snaps this year. The next closest team, Washington, lost 3,350 so it was a massive gap between Tampa and everyone else. Tampa really went out of their way to keep the roster complete this year. The Bills dropped just 3,366 snaps and the Packers just slightly over 3,400.
Not surprisingly the Texans added the most snaps with nearly 9,100 snaps coming into the organization from the outside this year. There are few notable names on the list as they just overhauled the entire roster by signing a large number of lower cost players. I can’t recall the last time a team with a bonafide QB on their roster had this kind of roster change. This is what you would expect of a team that is completely rebuilding and looking to draft a QB not one with a QB in place.
New England added 7,782 snaps and unlike the Texans they spent big to acquire those players. Matt Judon, Hunter Henry, and Jonnu Smith were just some of the names they brought in this year. Combined with the return of a number of veteran Covid opt outs this years Patriots should look quite different than last year’s team.
The Jets added 5,484 snaps to the team this offseason. Though the volume of players was not like a team like the Jaguars the Jets opted for players who were more consistent contributors and should have less risk of flaming out when asked to play a bigger role.
The Cardinals and Lions both added over 5,400 snaps to help replace some of those losses. The Jaguars were the only other team over 5,000.
The Buccaneers and Packers added no new snaps to the team this year. That’s pretty wild. Not even a street free agent who played a few snaps elsewhere last year. I’m not sure if I have seen that before. The Rams added just 1,148 snaps and it was all on offense with no new snaps on defense. The Steelers and Ravens added just 10 and 11 snaps on defense.
On offense the Browns added just 3 snaps to the team but over 3,700 defensive snaps. The Broncos took a similar approach with just 31 offensive snaps added to the team and over 2,800 defensive ones. No other teams were that low on offense.
Gains vs Losses
While pretty much almost every team still has holes to fill (only five teams are in the positive- the Jaguars, Bills, Patriots, Texans, and Dolphins), the bottom right quadrant are the teams I would really be looking at as needing big hits in the draft, players to return from injury, or players to step up and play a bigger role than before. They are most likely the teams to be most active in the next phase of free agency.
Here is all the snap data that we have from last year and this year. The heading should be sortable if you click on the column header.
|Team||Off. Snaps Lost||Def. Snaps Lost||Total Snaps Lost||Off Snaps Gained||Def. Snaps Gained||Total Snaps Gained||Net Off.||Net Def.||Net Total Snaps|
Jason is the founder of OTC and has been studying NFL contracts and the salary cap for over 15 years. Jason has co-authored two books about the NFL, Crunching Numbers and the Drafting Stage, which are widely circulated in the industry and hosts the OTC Podcast. Jason’s work has been featured in various publications including the Sporting News, Sports Illustrated, NFL Network and more. OTC is widely considered the leading authority on contract matters in the NFL.