Bills’ Brandon Beane/Sean McDermott, Rams’ Les Snead top the board

7) Mickey Loomis, New Orleans Saints

No one finds change in the cushions of the salary cap couch quite like Loomis. In his greatest trick of him yet, Loomis turned the most money over the cap entering the offseason I’ve ever seen (except for the 2021 Saints) into an unnecessary surplus after the Saints’ failed bid for deshaun watson. Saints Twitter grumbles, but this has been one of the most talented rosters for years, especially on defense and the offensive line. How else could you go 17-4 over the last three seasons in games started by James Winston, Taysom Hill and Teddy Bridgewater?

8) Duke Tobin, Cincinnati Bengals

Signing middle-class free agents and drafting college brand names from big programs is a strategy that is working well for Tobin. He has to take some grief for failing to solve an offensive line problem that precedes Zac Taylor, but this is the second Super Bowl-caliber roster Tobin has put together. (Check out that 2015 Bengals squad before andy dalton‘s injury!)

9) Tom Telesco, Los Angeles Chargers

Telesco has stacked prime talent in the draft for a while now, and last year was no different: Left tackle Rashawn Slater was another potential All-Pro pick and Asante Samuel Jr. should prove to be a great second-round value. As of late, though, Telesco has shone in the other aspects of the job, too. The 10th-year Chargers GM added a quality pick at head coach in Brandon Staley last offseason. Then he went big-game hunting this offseason and scored J C Jackson and Khalil Mack. It all looks so good on paper, except that right side of the offensive line. Same as it ever was?

10) Bill Belichick, New England Patriots

After a prolonged slump, Belichick badly needed a good year from his Belichick-led front office. He/they delivered in 2021 with important free-agent pickups (matthew judon, hunter henry, Kendrick Bourne) and his best draft in nearly a decade (mac jones, Christian Barmore and Rhamondre Stevenson). One year won’t fix a roster that was otherwise calcifying, but another strong draft would go a long way toward setting up Jones for success on his rookie contract. Making the playoffs with a rookie quarterback is no small feat, but this team needs more young building blocks.

11) Jon Robinson, Tennessee Titans

I’m partial to consistency, and it’s hard to get more consistent than six straight winning seasons under Robinson’s stewardship. While the Titans showcased their depth in surviving a brutal rash of injuries to nab the AFC’s No. 1 seed, Robinson’s 2021 draft class had little impact and his biggest swings from him in the offseason (the Julius Jones trade and Bud Dupree contract) failed to bear fruit. The Titans have a type, and their type is big and nasty.

12) Chris Ballard, Indianapolis Colts

turning Carson Wentz into matt ryan and a draft pick was a nifty trick, although it doesn’t nullify what Indianapolis gave up for Wentz in the first place. Ballard and the Colts are proof that good process and good coaching doesn’t always lead to great results. Indy’s roster is not quite as strong as it was two years ago, and Ballard needs another boff draft to restock the aisles. The Colts GM has hit it big at subprime positions (guard, off-ball linebacker, safety, running back) while struggling to find the right quarterback and receivers.

13) John Lynch, San Francisco 49ers

The 49ers are still under .500 in the Lynch/Kyle Shanahan era, but at least they make it count when they make the playoffs. This is routinely one of the most talented rosters in football, which Lynch deserves a lot of credit for. the Trent Williams trade and subsequent contract was an underrated steal. I’ve always been impressed how the Niners find surprising pieces to excel on their defensive line and in the secondary.

14) Howie Roseman, Philadelphia Eagles

Like Bill Belichick, Roseman badly needed a rebound after a string of mostly shaky drafts — and the Eagles GM got it with DeVonta Smith, Landon Dickerson and Milton-Williams. the Jalen Hurts pick also looks pretty good now; Philadelphia got league-average starting-quarterback play from a second-rounder on a rookie contract. There have been some massive ups and downs in Roseman’s reign, but he’s settling in here just above average, like the Eagles’ nine-win seasons in three of the last four years.

15) Eric DeCosta, Baltimore Ravens

You can barely tell Ozzie Newsome has left the GM post, which is intended as the highest of compliments. The Ravens balance short-term goals against veteran contracts along with tough decisions about their future (the Orlando Brown trade) as well as any team in the league. Baltimore remaining competitive despite the worst injury luck in two decades speaks to the organizational strength. DeCosta just needs a few draft home runs like Newsome used to hit to round out the portfolio.

16) Jerry Jones, Dallas Cowboys

The Cowboys have been one of the best drafting teams for the last decade. What happens after that — roster management, coaching and development — is a lot less reliable. the Ezekiel Elliott Albatross of a contract is typical of an organization that has often failed to self-scout and fallen for its own hype.

If a team is consistently less as a whole than the sum of its parts, does Jones get credit for the parts or blame for the whole?

17) John Schneider, Seattle Seahawks

Seahawks ownership ultimately decided to keep Schneider/Pete Carroll and let them trade Russell Wilson. Not the choice I would’ve made — gimme Wilson. And I would not adopt trade away your best players for draft picks as a strategy worth pursuing with D. K. Metcalfespecially when there have been so few good selections in the last five years.

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