National Football League

Room To Fill

5 days ago

Of the 32 teams in the National Football League, seven are now looking for a new head coach.

The Philadelphia Eagles made a late entry to the list of available jobs following Monday's departure of Doug Pederson, meaning roughly 22 percent of the league's franchises are on the hunt for a new captain of the ship.

Here's the list of openings in alphabetical order: Atlanta Falcons, Detroit Lions, Houston TexansJacksonville Jaguars, Los Angeles Chargers, New York Jets, and the Philadelphia Eagles.

Between some teams looking at a full rebuild (the 1-15 Jaguars) and others looking to just get over the hump (the 7-9 Chargers), a few franchises are in better shape than others.

There are numerous factors to consider when it comes to these vacancies, including, but not limited to: key players currently under contract (team-friendly or otherwise), cap space (via Spotrac) and upcoming draft picks.

So, which franchise has the most attractive opening? Nick Wright ranked the positions on First Things First, along with some key elements for context.

No. 7 ⁠— Detroit Lions

Key players under contract: QB Matthew Stafford, TE T.J. Hockenson, RB D'Andre Swift, C Frank Ragnow, CB Jeff Okudah, DE Trey Flowers

Projected cap space: $6.5 million under (16th in NFL)

Upcoming 2021 draft picks: No. 7, No. 41, No. 72, No. 103, No. 137

Wright's take: "They have no extra picks, they're an average cap situation and they're not a free-agent destination. And I know you're going to be like, 'But, they have Matt Stafford!' Well, all of these teams have a quarterback in place or are going to be able to draft one."

No. 6 ⁠— Philadelphia Eagles

Key players under contract: QB Carson Wentz, QB Jalen Hurts, RB Miles Sanders, CB Darius Slay, TE Dallas Goedert, DT Fletcher Cox, RT Lane Johnson

Projected cap space: $74.1 million over (31st in NFL)

Upcoming 2021 draft picks: No. 6, No. 37, No. 70, No. 134, No. 140, No. 165, No. 198

Wright's take: "If you go to Philly, what do you have? You don't know if you have a quarterback ... You don't know if your GM is going to draft well ... You're in, to me, a really rough spot ... I don't think the Eagles right now are a good job at all."

No. 5 ⁠— Houston Texans

Key players under contract: QB Deshaun Watson, LT Laremy Tunsil, DE J.J. Watt, WR Brandin Cooks, LB Whitney Mercilus, RB David Johnson

Projected cap space: $20.3 million over (27th in NFL)

Upcoming 2021 draft picks: No. 67, No. 100, No. 113, No. 131, No. 164, No. 178, No. 189

Wright's take: "You keep trying to be the Patriots. It hasn't worked out ... But they have Deshaun Watson and they have a winnable division. What they don't have is cap space or draft picks."

No. 4 ⁠— Atlanta Falcons

Key players under contract: QB Matt Ryan, WR Calvin Ridley, WR Julio Jones, DT Grady Jarrett, DE Dante Fowler Jr., LB Deion Jones

Projected cap space: $32.3 million over (30th in NFL)

Upcoming 2021 draft picks: No. 4, No. 35, No. 68, No. 99, No. 132, No. 163

Wright's take: "They also have no extra draft picks. They have a bad cap situation. Their quarterback? Sneaky-old Matt Ryan ⁠— 36 in a couple of months. And their defense hasn't been good in years."

No. 3 ⁠— Los Angeles Chargers

Key players under contract: QB Justin Herbert, WR Keenan Allen, DE Joey Bosa, S Derwin James, TE Hunter Henry, CB Casey Hayward, LT Bryan Bulaga

Projected cap space: $22 million under (11th in NFL)

Upcoming 2021 draft picks: No. 13, No. 47, No. 78, No. 109, No. 143, No. 174, No. 181, No. 205

Wright's take: "They do have a good cap situation, and they've got three, I consider, studs. Herbert, Bosa and Derwin James if James can be healthy. So why aren't they higher? What's the first step in the NFL to success? Winning your division. Can they win their division? Well, not until 2035 when [Patrick] Mahomes is done, so it makes that job harder."

No. 2 ⁠— New York Jets

Key players under contract: QB Sam Darnold, WR Jamison Crowder, LT Mekhi Becton, DL Quinnen Williams, DE Henry Anderson

Projected cap space: $62.9 million under (3rd in NFL)

Upcoming 2021 draft picks: No. 2, No. 23, No. 34, No. 66. No. 98, No. 130, No. 138, No. 162, No. 215

Wright's take: "Picks galore, cap space galore, great city and winnable division. And they're gonna have Justin Fields. Here's their problem: They don't have players ... There's like three guys on the roster you know are good players."

No. 1 ⁠— Jacksonville Jaguars

Key players under contract: QB Gardner Minshew, RB James Robinson, LB Myles Jack, LB Joe Schobert, WR D.J. Chark

Projected cap space: $77.3 million under (1st in NFL)

Upcoming 2021 draft picks: No. 1, No. 25, No. 33, No. 45, No. 65, No. 97, No. 121, No. 129, No. 156, No. 193, No. 214 

Wright's thoughts: "Picks galore and pick space galore ... I've seen enough. Trevor Lawrence: NFL star ... And, by the way, in a winnable division and no state taxes in Florida. You [get to] do a little free-agency stuff."

For Wright's full breakdown of the vacancies, check out the two videos below, in which you can hear his thoughts on the initial six openings and see how he has rearranged the list based on Philadelphia's late entry and other recent news.


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