Roster turnover for every AFC South 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 dive into the AFC South.
Overall snaps lost: 24.90 percent, 22nd-smallest loss in the NFL (2015: 30.73 percent, 28th)
Offensive snaps lost: 37.08 percent, 30th (2015: 25.37 percent, 18th)
Biggest losses: C Ben Jones (1,210), RG Brandon Brooks (1,001), WR Nate Washington (811), QB Brian Hoyer (692)
After a relative down year, the Texans elected to let Brooks test the free-agent market, where Philadelphia handed him a strong five-year deal. Jones found his way to Tennessee after failing to agree to terms with Houston last March. Washington signed on for one year with the Patriots, but it’s far from a sure thing that he’ll see much of the field. The Bears picked up Hoyer to be their back-up quarterback after the Texans decided to move in a different direction this offseason.
Replacement plan: Whether you love the deal or hate it, Brock Osweiler will be the starting quarterback for Houston for the foreseeable future. The Texans moved up in the first round to grab WR Will Fuller (Notre Dame), so it would be a shock if they didn’t give him every opportunity to seize Washington’s vacant role. Xavier Su’a-Filo should be back as one starter on the interior of the line, while second-round pick Nick Martin (Notre Dame) is likely to man the center position, leaving one guard position open, where former Chief Jeff Allen should slot in after inking a four-year deal.
Defensive snaps lost: 12.72 percent, third (2015: 36.09 percent, 29th)
Biggest losses: DE Jared Crick (797), S Rahim Moore (451)
The Texans had an underrated—but effective defense—last season, and they’ll return the vast majority of their playing time for 2016. Moore was benched last season in favor of Andre Hal, and as a result, he’ll be competing in Cleveland for a starting spot. Crick experienced a down year, and will be part of Denver’s defensive line rotation in the upcoming season.
Replacement plan: It will likely take a group effort to replace Crick’s playing time, and young guns like Christian Covington, Brandon Dunn, and Jeoffrey Pagan could all help fill that void. Hal should be a full-time starter this year after playing reasonably well in his second season, and could improve with another season under his belt.
Overall snaps lost: 28.43 percent, 26th (2015: 25.35 percent, 17th)
Offensive snaps lost: 27.76 percent, 27th (2015: 22.51 percent, 14th)
Biggest losses: TE Coby Fleener (748), WR Andre Johnson (723), OL Khaled Holmes (500), QB Matt Hasselbeck (474)
The Saints found their replacement for Jimmy Graham in signing Fleener this offseason after his rookie deal with the Colts expired. Johnson barely managed 500 yards in 2015, and at 35 years old, recently inked a two-year deal with the Titans. Hasselbeck was well past his sell-by date last season, yet still performed admirably in relief for Andrew Luck, and after 18 seasons, he’s retired from the league. Holmes was waived just after the draft after a few lackluster seasons in Indianapolis.
Replacement plan: The drafting of center Ryan Kelly (Alabama) is what made Holmes surplus to requirements. Last year’s first-round pick, WR Phillip Dorsett, should carve out a bigger role in the offense with Johnson gone after playing just 215 snaps in year one. A healthy Luck will negate the need for a serviceable backup like Hasselbeck; though, with how often he gets taken down, it’s far from a sure thing. The Colts elected to keep Dwayne Allen instead of Fleener, so he should be their top tight end this year, with Jack Doyle seeing the field in two-TE packages.
Defensive snaps lost: 29.10 percent, 22nd (2015: 28.19 percent, 20th)
Biggest losses: S Dwight Lowery (1,100), LB Jerrell Freeman (758), CB Greg Toler (692)
Lowery was allowed to walk after back-to-back seasons of over 1,000 snaps and solid play, and he figures to start in San Diego this season. The Bears made Freeman a part of their plan to upgrade at linebacker, signing the career Colt to a three-year deal. After three consecutive years of negatively-graded play, Toler could only manage a one-year deal in D.C.
Replacement plan: Clayton Geathers is penciled in as the starting safety opposite Mike Adams, but second-round rookie T.J. Green (Clemson) could see the field at some point, even if it’s only in sub packages. D’Qwell Jackson is entrenched as a starter at one inside linebacker position, despite grading negatively in each of the last four seasons, so the second spot appears to be Nate Irving’s to lose. After a one-year stint in San Diego, Patrick Robinson signed with the Colts and should start opposite Vontae Davis.
Overall snaps lost: 18.94 percent, 11th (2015: 20.73 percent, 11th)
Offensive snaps lost: 23.80 percent, 25th (2015: 15.97 percent, seventh)
Biggest losses: LG Zane Beadles (1,072), C Stefen Wisniewski (1,072), TE Clay Harbor (311)
Releasing Beadles saved the Jaguars a hefty $5.5 million, and after a negatively-graded season, it was an easy decision. Wisniewski was solid at center during his lone season in Jacksonville, though he’ll be starting 2016 with the Eagles. Harbor was the third option at tight end last season, and has joined the Patriots’ crowded TE situation this offseason.
Replacement plan: Harbor will be the easiest to replace, as neither Marcedes Lewis nor Julius Thomas played more than 700 snaps last season, so both could see a sizable increase in playing time. Brandon Linder was limited to 197 snaps last year due to injury, and he’s slotted in as Wisniewski’s replacement in 2016. Mackenzy Bernadeau rejoined his former teammate, Jermey Parnell, and should start at left guard in Beadles’ place.
Defensive snaps lost: 14.09 percent, fourth (2015: 25.49 percent, 15th)
Biggest losses: DE Chris Clemons (657), DE Andre Branch (616), S Sergio Brown (564)
Clemons was cut after two massively disappointing seasons with the Jaguars, and has returned to Seattle where he will take on a situational role. Starting his career with four straight negatively-graded seasons, Jacksonville was content to let Branch hit the market, where he signed a one-year deal with Miami. Brown was benched early on last year, then re-emerged as a part-time player, and the 28-year-old remains a free agent.
Replacement plan: The Jags are well prepared to cope with their losses on the defensive side of the ball. The third-overall pick a year ago, Dante Fowler, had his rookie season cut down before it began, though all reports are that his recovery from a torn ACL is going well. In a similar vein, Sen’Derrick Marks should replace Branch’s playing time after a torn triceps limited him to 151 snaps a season ago. DT Malik Jackson took a lucrative deal and will help solidify the interior after playing out his rookie contract in Denver. First-round pick Jalen Ramsey (Florida State) and former Brown Tashaun Gipson should both be full-time starters in the secondary—and likely upgrades on whomever they replace.
Overall snaps lost: 16.89 percent, sixth (2015: 27.69 percent, 21st)
Offensive snaps lost: 10.44 percent, sixth (2015: 35.80 percent, 28th)
Biggest losses: OL Joe Looney (428), OL Jamon Meredith (396)
The Titans’ young offense will have another year to grow together after losing just over 10 percent of their 2015 playing time. After struggling at both center and guard, Looney joined the Cowboys in what will be a reserve role, at best. Meredith wasn’t great as a fill-in and will have to find work elsewhere this season. While not included in their snaps lost count, Byron Bell dislocated his ankle and will miss the season after suiting up for 1,040 snaps last year.
Replacement plan: First-round pick Jack Conklin (Michigan State) continues the Titans’ tradition of grabbing offensive linemen early in the draft, and he should fill in for Bell from the get-go. A number of players could see playing time inside, as Chance Warmack appears to be the only starter set in stone. Andy Gallik, Jeremiah Poutasi, and Brian Schwenke are all in the mix, though all three graded in the red last season, but it’s more likely that former Texan Ben Jones will man the starting center position while others battle it out for the remaining guard spot.
Defensive snaps lost: 23.34 percent, 12th (2015: 19.58 percent, ninth)
Biggest losses: CB Coty Sensabaugh (1,021), S Michael Griffin (957), ILB Zach Brown (499)
The Rams gave Sensabaugh a three-year deal, despite three of his four seasons in the league resulting in a negative grade. Griffin likewise is coming off back-to-back seasons in the red, and the 31-year-old safety was a cap casualty, subsequently catching on with the Vikings in March. Brown found his way to Buffalo to help revamp their linebacker corps after four years as a Titan.
Replacement plan: Jason McCourty struggled through 218 injury-laden snaps last year, but if he’s back to his previous best in 2016, he’ll provide a massive improvement on any of the corners that saw the field last year in his place. Perrish Cox missed several games midseason and could up his snap count, as well. The Titans nabbed Rashad Johnson from Arizona, who should start opposite Da’Norris Searcy. Wesley Woodyard somehow couldn’t find a full-time role in the defense, despite posting a strongly-positive grade (fourth-best at the position, in fact) last year, but that should change in 2016 without Brown.