We’ve all asked the question, right? If you had the opportunity to become an NFL head coach or general manager, which current opening would you prefer? Which NFL opening is the most desirable?
Would you prefer to be in Jacksonville? The number one pick in the 2021 NFL Draft is certainly enticing, but are you willing to put up with helicopter ownership? Are you willing to take a job in which winning has become a rarity?
How about Houston? A young quarterback that appears to be one of the best in the NFL. However, former HC/GM Bill O’Brien dismantled the roster and left the franchise in turmoil.
Below, we’ll rank the most desirable openings in the NFL. Furthermore, we’ll breakdown each franchise’s roster and attempt to predict the issues that each will face.
1. Los Angeles Chargers – Head Coach
On Monday, the Chargers informed Anthony Lynn that he would not be retained as head coach of the organization. There were several blunders throughout the season that led to this decision, most notably those involving clock management.
General Manager Tom Telesco should have his pick of the litter in terms a head coach. Last year, the Chargers drafted Oregon QB Justin Herbert with the 6th overall pick. In his rookie year, Herbert took the center stage in a week five matchup on Monday Night Football against New Orleans. Despite losing in overtime, Herbert displayed his playmaking abilities to keep his team in the game.
Herbert and the Chargers have several playmakers on the offensive side of the ball. These include Austin Ekeler, Mike Williams, and Keenan Allen.
The Chargers have the 13th pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, which they’ll likely have to use on an offensive lineman or two.
On the defensive side of the ball, the next head coach may have to find a replacement for Melvin Ingram. The 32-year old outside linebacker is set to become an unrestricted free agent this offseason.
Despite the needs for the franchise, I think this is the most desirable opening in the NFL.
2. Atlanta Falcons – Head Coach and General Manager
The first order of business in Atlanta should be finding an eventual replacement for QB Matt Ryan. The Boston College product will be 36-years old when the 2021 NFL season begins. The ideal situation for the Falcons would be to draft a quarterback with the 4th overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. Ryan could start the year for Atlanta, giving way to his replacement midway through the season. More so, the franchise has an out in Ryan’s contract following the 2021 season.
Atlanta is solid at wide receiver, but should explore ways of adding to their backfield, given that Todd Gurley will be a free agent this offseason.
However, most of the needs for the Falcons come on the defensive side of the ball. Frankly, the franchise could invest in every single defensive position and fans wouldn’t criticize them. Fortunately, the franchise is picking towards the top of each round, giving them the ability to nab that defensive playmaker they desperately need.
3. New York Jets – Head Coach
New York has a decision to make with the second overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. However, regardless of their decision, I don’t think it moves the meter on the head coach desirability. If the Jets opt to keep the second pick and draft a quarterback or offensive tackle, they’ll lock up a key position of need. However, if the franchise trades out of the second pick, the draft capital will reduce the time needed for a complete rebuild.
Speaking of rebuild, we’re not talking a complete rebuild here. The Jets have a corner piece in Mekhi Becton on the offensive line to build around. At receiver, there is Jamison Crowder and Denzel Mims, although a receiver to lineup opposite of Mims is a secondary concern.
Defensively, the New York Jets will need to upgrade their pass rush. However, in the secondary, the Jets aren’t too bad short-term.
Coming back around to the franchise’s decision with the second overall pick, it all revolves around QB Sam Darnold. If the next head coach is sold on him, they could look at surrounding him with talent. However, with the 2nd pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, the Jets will have a tough decision to make in a QB-heavy draft class.
4. Houston Texans – Head Coach and General Manager
To truly evaluate the desirability of the openings in Houston, let’s look at what the franchise has. Actually, let’s look at what they don’t have.
Deshaun Watson is signed through 2024, although there is an option for 2025 that Houston is almost certain to pickup. However, this means that the next General Manager will likely be tasked with negotiating his next contract extension. Laremy Tunsil, the team’s anchor at left tackle, is only signed through the 2023 season. Needless to say, Bill O’Brien wasn’t a fan of long-term contracts.
In March, the Texans traded DeAndre Hopkins in exchange for David Johnson and a few draft picks, including a fourth round pick in 2021. David Johnson isn’t expected to return to Houston, following a lackluster year as a premier back for the Texans. At wide receiver, Will Fuller is an unrestricted free agent. Given the needs that the franchise has, and their limited draft capital in 2021, it’s almost certain that Watson will be throwing to a practice squad-caliber core of receivers next season.
The next General Manager of the Houston Texans will have a decision to make in regards to JJ Watt. The defensive end has been outspoken that he wants to compete for championships sooner, rather than later. However, I’m not sure if that’s possible in Houston. The Texans would save 17.5 Million by releasing Watt prior to next season. These cap savings would go a long ways in rebuilding the talent on defense.
5. Carolina Panthers – General Manager
I want to move this opening higher up the list, but the Carolina Panthers have key positions of need that must be addressed.
I’ve said that the Panthers could show some patience in drafting their next quarterback, but I’m not so sure that’s still the case.
In addition to quarterback, an inside linebacker, offensive linemen, and defensive backs are all in need of upgrades.
Head Coach Matt Rhule has made a name for himself by turning collegiate programs around quickly, but this is a different story. Needless to say, the next General Manager of the Carolina Panthers will have their hands full.
6. Jacksonville Jaguars – Head Coach and General Manager
Following a 1-15 season, the Jaguars have locked up the first overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. We can go ahead and mock them a quarterback at that pick, with Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence being the most likely. Laviska Shenault Jr. was a bright spot at receiver in 2020 for Jacksonville, as was DJ Chark.
However, that’s really where the positives end for Jacksonville. D.J. Hayden is set to hit free agency this season. In addition to cornerback, the next General Manager will need to rebuild the offensive line and pass rush, as well as obtaining an additional weapon for the next quarterback.
Jaguars owner Shad Khan, in comments made on Monday, might have scared away potential candidates, dropping this considerably in our list of the most desirable opening in the NFL.
Jaguars owner Shad Khan said he had roster control in 2020 and will make sure GM coming in knows he will keep that control for now, at least.
— Michael DiRocco (@ESPNdirocco) January 4, 2021
It’s unclear how this will impact their search, but I don’t see it as a positive.
7. Detroit Lions – Head Coach and General Manager
Rounding out our list is the Detroit Lions.
First off, Detroit is going to be hit hard at wide receiver this offseason. The Lions have five receivers set to hit free agency this offseason, including Marvin Jones and Danny Amendola.
Next, there’s a decision to be made on QB Matthew Stafford. Is it time to blow up the roster and start from scratch with a new quarterback? The Lions are picking 7th in the 2021 NFL Draft, so they should have the opportunity to draft his replacement, if that’s where things are headed.
From a talent standpoint, the Detroit Lions lack premier players across the board. Regardless of what happens at quarterback, this isn’t going to be a quick turn around for the franchise. As a result, I think this ranks last as the most desirable NFL opening.