Snaps lost for each AFC East team
Returning for the 2016 season, PFF’s snaps lost series takes a detailed look at the playing time void created by players who have left each team this offseason, whether they were traded, cut, left via free agency, or retired.
Because each unit plays a different number of snaps over the course of the year, we will be looking at what percentage of each teams’ total snaps are in need of replacement, rather than raw snap-count totals. Each team will have a ranking following their percentage of snaps lost, with the first-ranked team in each category (offense, defense, and total) representing the team with the smallest portion of their playing time in need of replacement.
A few caveats before getting into the good stuff:
- Suspensions and injuries that may limit 2016 snap counts are not considered.
- “Biggest losses” are purely in terms of snap count, not necessarily in terms of impact.
- All snap counts are regular-season only.
With those qualifiers in mind, let’s first dive into the AFC East.
Overall snaps lost: 20.42 percent, 15th-smallest loss in the NFL (2015 snaps lost: 20.55 percent, 10th)
Offensive snaps lost: 13.79 percent, 14th (2015: 29.90 percent, 25th)
Biggest offensive losses: WR Chris Hogan (626), G Kraig Urbik (440)
The Bills cut their offensive turnover in half since last season. Hogan joined the Patriots on a three-year deal after three relatively anonymous years with Buffalo in which he tallied less than 1,000 receiving yards. Urbik was let go back in March, and also joined a division rival, signing a two-year deal with the Dolphins.
Replacement plan: Hogan’s departure leaves the No. 3 wide receiver position up for grabs. Any of Marquise Goodwin, Marcus Easley, or Greg Salas could come in and contribute, and a WR-by-committee approach may be the end result. Urbik alternated games at right guard with John Miller, who could be a full-time starter this season, but Miller was a liability last season, accumulating the fifth-lowest grade among guards, despite a part-time workload.
Defensive snaps lost: 27.05 percent, 20th (2015: 11.20 percent, third)
Biggest defensive losses: DE Mario Williams (909), LB Nigel Bradham (745), S Bacarri Rambo (705), CB Leodis McKelvin (404)
After eight consecutive seasons grading in the green dating back to his time in Houston, Williams dropped off a cliff in Rex Ryan’s defense in 2015. The Dolphins snatched him up on a two-year deal that should have the former No. 1 overall pick back in a more familiar role. Bradham was let go in free agency, and will reunite with Jim Schwartz in Philadelphia after a subpar final season as a Bill. After eight years in Buffalo, McKelvin became a cap casualty in March, signing with the Eagles shortly thereafter. Rambo, meanwhile, remains a free agent, despite youth and a solid season in Buffalo on his side.
Replacement plan: The Bills hit the draft hard to cover for their defensive losses, taking Shaq Lawson (Clemson) in the first round and Reggie Ragland (Alabama) early in the second. Both could be Week 1 starters in place of Williams and Bradham, respectively. Aaron Williams’ 2015 campaign was cut short with a neck injury, but he should be ready to go this season, and could give the Bills another 800 snaps in the secondary, replacing Rambo’s contribution, if healthy. With both Nickell Robey and Duke Williams short of a full-time workload last season, the Bills should have plenty of options to fill out their secondary.
Overall snaps lost: 31.49 percent, 30th (2015: 39.31 percent, 32nd)
Offensive snaps lost: 21.17 percent, 21st (2015: 45.49 percent, 32nd)
Biggest losses: G Jason Fox (852), RB Lamar Miller (647), WR Rishard Matthews (533)
After losing nearly half of their offensive snaps last offseason, the Dolphins returned to the middle of the pack in 2016. Jason Fox was out third-lowest-graded guard on the year, and after being waived in January, has drawn little interest. Miller should see heavy use in Houston after never topping 700 snaps in any of his four seasons with the Dolphins. Matthews exceeded all expectations as a seventh-round pick in 2012, and was rewarded for his solid work with a three-year deal with the Titans.
Replacement plan: Miami is far from short on options to replace Miller, as the free-agent signing of Arian Foster (Texans) completes the player swap. Both Jay Ajayi and Damien Williams could see their use in the offense increase, and third-round pick Kenyan Drake (Alabama) could see the field, as well. After falling in the first round, Laremy Tunsil (Ole Miss) could take Fox’s place, while the addition of Jermon Bushrod (Bears) strengthens one of 2015’s shakiest lines. Kenny Stills and DeVante Parker could each see a sizable increase in playing time that could account for Matthews’ departure, as could third-round pick Leonte Carroo (Rutgers).
Defensive snaps lost: 41.80 percent, 32nd (2015: 33.13 percent, 26th)
Biggest losses: CB Brent Grimes (987), DE Olivier Vernon (977), DE Derrick Shelby (861), CB Brice McCain (735), CB Jamar Taylor (733), LB Kelvin Sheppard (729)
Losing over 30 percent of their defensive playing time for consecutive years, the Dolphins will have a massive amount of production to replace. Grimes returned to the NFC South, this time with the Bucs, after being cut to save cap space. Fellow corners Taylor and McCain will play this season for the Browns and Titans, respectively, as Taylor was part of a draft-day trade, and McCain was cut in February. Vernon signed a massive deal with the Giants after the Dolphins rescinded the transition tag, and produced an incredible second half to the 2015 season. Shelby turned the strongest year of his brief career into a four-year deal to help a lackluster pass-rush in Atlanta. Meanwhile, Sheppard will join Vernon in New York to help bolster their depleted linebacker corps.
Replacement plan: Bobby McCain (403 snaps last season) should see the field as at least a nickel corner. An interesting trade brought over Byron Maxwell from Philadelphia, and between him and second-round pick Xavien Howard (Baylor), the Dolphins should have their starting corners set. Mario Williams will be looking to rebound after a disappointing final season in Buffalo, and the 10-year vet should be able to eat into most of Vernon’s snaps, with a hopefully-healthy Cameron Wake digging in as well. Though they graded poorly last season, both Earl Mitchell and Jordan Phillips could see a bump in playing time on the interior, and the addition of Kiko Alonso (Eagles) should mitigate the loss of Sheppard.
New England Patriots
Overall snaps lost: 15.85 percent, fourth (2015: 24.54 percent, 15th)
Offensive snaps lost: 9.42 percent, fourth (2015: 16.57 percent, eighth)
Biggest losses: WR Brandon LaFell (672), TE Scott Chandler (385)
LaFell became the Patriots’ leader in playing time among wide receivers when injuries beset others, and he’ll be with the Bengals this season to help replace some of their pass-catching losses. Chandler was let go after failing a physical, and after serious knee surgery put his career in doubt, he remains unsigned. While not included in the snaps-lost percentage, Michael Williams tore his ACL this offseason, and his 452 snaps are in need of replacement.
Replacement plan: Julian Edelman could double his snap count if the foot injury he sustained last season doesn’t linger too long. The Patriots signed WR Chris Hogan away from the Bills, and several other New England receivers could feature more in the offense this season. With the addition of Martellus Bennett (Bears)—who averaged 900+ snaps per season over the last four years—New England now has one of the best tight-end duos in the league.
Defensive snaps lost: 22.28 percent, 10th (2015: 32.52 percent, 24th)
Biggest losses: DE Chandler Jones (880), LB Jerod Mayo (402)
With one year remaining on his rookie deal, Jones was shipped off to Arizona, netting the Patriots Jonathan Cooper and a second-round pick for the talented defensive end. Mayo retired amidst recent health concerns—injuries limited him to fewer than 1,200 snaps over the last three seasons.
Replacement plan: Former Ram Chris Long will slot into the defensive end rotation after signing a very team-friendly deal in March. Jabaal Sheard was our fourth-ranked 4-3 defensive end last season, despite playing just over half of the team’s defensive snaps, and will see more time if he can stay healthy. Standout linebackers Jamie Collins and Dont’a Hightower will play more in 2016, as well, barring injuries, while Shea McClellin and Jonathan Freeny will compete for the third linebacker position.
New York Jets
Overall snaps lost: 26.93 percent, 25th (2015: 15.32 percent, fourth)
Offensive snaps lost: 21.93 percent, 23rd (2015: 14.46 percent, sixth)
Biggest losses: OT D’Brickashaw Ferguson (1,140), RB Chris Ivory (551)
Ferguson retired after his play declined dramatically in 2015, but that shouldn’t take anything away from a stellar career in which he was on the field for over 11,000 snaps with the Jets. Ivory’s bruising style limited his playing time during his tenure in New York, but some strong work running the ball landed him a solid contract with Jacksonville this offseason.
Replacement plan: New York acquired Ryan Clady from the Broncos in an early April trade of draft picks, and as long as he can stay healthy (far from a sure thing), he should slot in as at least a competent starter in Ferguson’s wake. And while they are drastically different backs, the addition of Matt Forte (Bears) will help mitigate the loss of Ivory.
Defensive snaps lost: 31.93 percent, 24th (2015: 16.17 percent, seventh)
Biggest losses: CB Antonio Cromartie (916), LB Demario Davis (865), NT Damon Harrison (577), OLB Calvin Pace (531)
Cromartie’s second stint in New York didn’t quite go as well as his first, as he was cut one year into his four-year deal. Davis graded negatively in all three facets of the game last season, and has signed with the Browns since his contract expired. At 35 years old, Pace hasn’t drawn much interest on the open market, and may not find a new team for this season. On the flip side, Harrison had no trouble finding a new deal as one of the best run defenders in the league, signing on with the Giants to clog up the middle of their defense for the next five years.
Replacement plan: The Jets added former Steeler Steve McLendon and former Bear Jarvis Jenkins, each of whom should help account for Harrison’s departure along the defensive line, even if they can’t quite match his production. Former first-round pick Dee Milliner will have every opportunity to take Cromartie’s vacated playing time after seeing only 865 snaps during his first two years in the league. First-rounder Darron Lee (Ohio State) could see some playing time, but Erin Henderson should slot in as the starter and could improve on his 232 snaps from last season.