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 NFC North.
Overall snaps lost: 29.41 percent, 27th-smallest loss in the NFL (2015: 23.55 percent, 14th)
Offensive snaps lost: 36.55 percent, 29th (2015: 24.23 percent, 16th)
Biggest losses: OL Matt Slauson (1,104), G Vladimir Ducasse (764), TE Martellus Bennett (740), G Patrick Omameh (679), RB Matt Forte (612)
The Bears have experienced quite the exodus on offense, losing five major contributors this offseason. Slauson put together an excellent 2015 campaign, despite flipping between center and guard all year, but could muster only a modest contract with the Chargers this offseason. Ducasse is coming off his third-straight negatively-graded season, and as such, will be competing for a starting spot in Baltimore. Bennett was traded to the Patriots after falling out of favor with the front office. Joining his third team in as many seasons, Omameh will be providing Jacksonville with depth along their interior line. And finally, Forte is on the wrong side of 30, so the Bears allowed him to walk after eight productive seasons in the Windy City; he’ll be part of the Jets’ running back rotation in 2016.
Replacement plan: Chicago dipped into the free-agent market to compensate for its offensive-line losses, signing Amini Silatolu (Panthers), Bobby Massie (Cardinals), and Ted Larsen (Cardinals). Second-round pick Cody Whitehair (Kansas State) will also figure into the mix, so between those four, they should be able to make up for the losses on the line. Bennett’s departure will make Zach Miller the top tight end, with either Khari Lee or Rob Housler finding the field in two-TE sets. Jeremy Langford was the No. 2 back behind Forte last year, so he will likely start this year, with Ka’Deem Carey, Jacquizz Rodgers, and fifth-round pick Jordan Howard (Indiana) as alternates.
Defensive snaps lost: 22.26 percent, ninth (2015: 22.87 percent, 12th)
Biggest losses: ILB Shea McClellin (687), DE Jarvis Jenkins (646), S Antrel Rolle (398)
After spending four lackluster seasons with the Bears, McClellin signed with the Patriots in hopes of rejuvenating his career. The Jets reeled in Jenkins after one year in Chicago, in which he accumulated a heavily negative grade. Turning 34 this season, interest in Rolle has been lukewarm after the Bears cut him in May, and he’s currently awaiting a contract offer.
Replacement plan: Danny Trevathan (Broncos) and Jerrell Freeman (Colts) should massively upgrade the inside linebacker position after the Bears have struggled to find competency in that area since Brian Urlacher retired. Chris Prosinski had a respectable 2015 campaign, and could start opposite Adrian Amos, with fourth-rounder Deon Bush (University of Miami) waiting in the wings. Jenkins was the only defensive lineman to top 530 snaps this year, so modest increases for guys like Eddie Goldman and Mitch Unrein could alleviate that issue, and the addition of Akiem Hicks from New England and Jonathan Bullard (Florida) in the third round will ensure that there’s no shortage of available defensive linemen.
Overall snaps lost: 29.51 percent, 28th (2015: 25.88 percent, 19th)
Offensive snaps lost: 23.03 percent, 24th (2015: 25.49 percent, 20th)
Biggest losses: WR Calvin Johnson (1,023), WR Lance Moore (590), OL Manuel Ramirez (502), OT LaAdrian Waddle (377)
Megatron’s retirement was a surprise for most, but Johnson cited health as his primary reason for stepping away from the game. Moore has bounced around the league over the last couple of years and hasn’t found a suitor since his contract with the Lions expired in March. Ramirez retired despite a strong season rotating along the interior. He graded positively in both 2013 and 2014, but Waddle turned in a disastrous grade in just nine games last season, forcing the Lions cut him loose in December.
Replacement plan: First-round pick Taylor Decker (Ohio State) will almost certainly provide an upgrade over Waddle, even if he exhibits growing pains in his rookie year. Ramirez was a fill-in and won’t be missed too much, as long as Larry Warford and others can stay healthy. The Lions brought in Marvin Jones (Bengals) to help relieve their depleted receiving corps, and along with the recent signing of Anquan Boldin (49ers), Detroit should have their playing time covered—even if those two don’t quite match the production of Johnson.
Defensive snaps lost: 35.99 percent, 30th (2015: 26.26 percent, 16th)
Biggest losses: LB Stephen Tulloch (737), S James Ihedigbo (604), S Isa Abdul-Quddus (584), DE Jason Jones (556), CB Rashean Mathis (445), DE Darryl Tapp (419)
Tulloch’s five-year stint in Detroit was cut short when the vet was released this past month. Safeties Ihedigbo and Abdul-Quddus were both allowed to leave in free agency, the former awaiting employment while the latter found a one-year deal with the Dolphins. Jones has been a solid rotational player during his time with the Lions, and joined Abdul-Quddus in Miami. Mathis put forth some strong seasons despite his advancing age, but the soon-to-be 36-year-old decided to retire after 13 seasons with the Jaguars and Lions. A journeyman defensive end, Tapp signed with New Orleans after two seasons in Detroit.
Replacement plan: Wallace Gilberry was brought in from Cincinnati and should see significant time at end, while both Ziggy Ansah and Devin Taylor could see modest bumps in their playing time. DeAndre Levy was an excellent linebacker before a hip injury cut his 2015 season tragically short, and if he can return to full strength, he should help ease the loss of Tulloch. The Lions signed former Patriot Tavon Wilson to a cheap, two-year deal, and he could end up manning the vacated safety spot next to Glover Quin. A sixth-round pick in 2015, Quandre Diggs vastly outperformed his draft status as a rookie, and could be set for a bigger role after earning a positive grade in 484 snaps last season.
Green Bay Packers
Overall snaps lost: 17.71 percent, seventh (2015: 14.14 percent, first)
Offensive snaps lost: 11.69 percent, eighth (2015: 4.61 percent, first)
Biggest losses: WR James Jones (1,063), FB John Kuhn (307)
Once again one of the better teams at retaining their own, the Packers will return the vast majority of their offense for the second year in a row. Jones was signed as an emergency measure after Jordy Nelson tore his ACL last season, and as such, isn’t in the Packers’ long-term plans. Fan-favorite Kuhn’s nine-year run with Green Bay appears to be at its end, as the soon to be 34-year-old fullback has not been re-signed.
Replacement plan: Nelson is an every-down player when healthy, and is expected to be good to go in Week 1. A 2015 sixth-round pick, FB Aaron Ripkowski is slated to pick up the lead-blocking duties for Kuhn.
Defensive snaps lost: 23.73 percent, 15th (2015: 23.66 percent, 13th)
Biggest losses: CB Casey Hayward (933), OLB Mike Neal (750), LB Nate Palmer (550), NT B.J. Raji (457)
The Packers’ depth at cornerback made Hayward expendable, and he received a well-earned deal with the Chargers. Neal was allowed to walk after six fairly anonymous years in Green Bay, and has drawn little interest as a free agent. Palmer struggled last year at inside linebacker and was waived in April. Raji surprised the Packers with a retirement months before he turned 30, and while he hasn’t shut the door on returning, he will not play in 2016.
Replacement plan: Sophomores Damarious Randall and Quinten Rollins will both see a bump in playing time, as could Sam Shields if he can stay healthy. Randall led the three with 771 (72 percent) snaps last season. If the Packers can kick Clay Matthews back to the outside, he’ll replace Neal’s snaps and provide an upgrade, though that will vacate more playing time at inside linebacker. A 2015 fourth-round pick, Jake Ryan will compete with 2016 fourth-rounder Blake Martinez (Stanford) at inside backer. Sam Barrington, who played just 16 snaps last season before a foot injury landed him on the injured-reserve list, will be the front-runner for the other ILB position. First-rounder Kenny Clark (UCLA) provides the Packers with a big body up front to replace Raji.
Overall snaps lost: 5.17 percent, first (2015: 14.90 percent, second)
Offensive snaps lost: 6.68 percent, second (2015: 23.69 percent, 15th)
Biggest losses: WR Mike Wallace (763)
Like the Packers, the Vikings retained nearly their entire offense in consecutive seasons. Wallace never really got on the same page as Teddy Bridgewater, and was cut one year after Minnesota traded for him.
Replacement plan: The Vikings aren’t short on options to replace Wallace’s playing time, getting right to it in the draft by selecting Laquon Treadwell (Ole Miss) in the first round. Should Treadwell start slowly, both Stephon Diggs and Jarius Wright could see a few hundred more snaps than they did last season.
Defensive snaps lost: 3.65 percent, second (2015: 6.12 percent, second)
Biggest losses: S Robert Blanton (236), ILB Gerald Hodges (154)
Blanton will be competing for a starting spot in Buffalo after four years with the Vikings. Hodges was traded to the 49ers early last season, and will compete for playing time opposite NaVorro Bowman.
Replacement plan: Neither Blanton or Hodges were starters—or even rotational players—as most of their playing time came when others went down. Good health among Minnesota’s safeties and linebackers will make both of these losses negligible.