Each NFL team's offseason is filled with small moves and marginal personnel decisions. Sometimes, that series of small moves will build a winner. But a big, bold move can help dramatically -- by improving talent at an important position or changing the overall direction of the franchise.
This week, we'll be suggesting a bold move for each team. Some of these are realistic; others are more far-fetched, but each would provide a significant change and improve a team's chances of winning future Super Bowls.
As a reminder, Football Outsiders' DVOA (defense-adjusted value over average) metric takes every play during the season and compares it to a baseline adjusted for situation and opponent. It is explained further here and will be referenced below.
Moves are suggested for each team independently of those suggested for other teams. Below are bold moves for each AFC team, with the NFC article published here.
Let CB Stephon Gilmore walk
As coach Sean McDermott tries to reconstruct a defense that underachieved under Rex Ryan, letting a premier cornerback leave in free agency wouldn't seem to be the optimal first step. Given how badly McDermott's Panthers struggled last year with a green secondary after rescinding Josh Norman's franchise tag, he may not want the Bills' front office to make a similar decision on Gilmore.
The only problem is that the "premier cornerback" label may not actually apply to Gilmore, at least based on his charting numbers. Sports Info Solutions charting had Gilmore allowing 9.4 yards per target in 2016, which ranked 77th out of 84 qualifying cornerbacks and highlighted his troublesome problems with the deep ball. Although Ryan's scheme demanded a lot from its corners, Gilmore did not necessarily thrive when given greater responsibility. Gilmore's 7.2 yards per target allowed in 2015 show he's capable of better, but those career-best numbers still ranked just 25th.
McDermott's scheme does not call for a $15 million-per-year cornerback, which is the figure currently projected if the Bills were to franchise Gilmore. Coincidentally, that's the same per-year average of the record-setting contract Norman signed with Washington. Even if Gilmore doesn't match that on the market, he would seem ticketed for no less than the five-year, $62.5 million deal Janoris Jenkins landed last year as the top free-agent cornerback.
Buffalo does still have Ronald Darby in place, and it could use the savings to beef up other areas of the roster, such as the pass rush and receiving corps. Norman's departure was hardly the only factor behind Carolina's defensive funk last season, and retaining Gilmore isn't the key to helping the Bills snap out of theirs. -- Aaron Schatz