There are a few teams in the NFL who are surely going to have extremely bleak futures after this season. Which three teams are going to struggle? The one place I think NFL teams are in the worst spot is what I call the "irrelevant middle."
For NFL teams, they should strive to be in the true contender tier or the rebuilding tier, because at least with rebuilding teams, they somewhat have an excuse to not be competitive and might be building toward something sustainable. For teams in the irrelevant middle, it's kind of no man's land.
Well, I think there are a handful of teams who are not only in the irrelevant middle, but also don't have the most promising futures. Which three teams would those be?
3 NFL teams with the most bleak futures going forward
New Orleans Saints
According to Over The Cap, the New Orleans Saints are projected to be over $75 million over the 2024 cap number. The Saints are 8-8 this year and are just not a good football team. The QB is below-average and the roster itself doesn't have enough juice. They also had the easiest schedule in the NFL this year and have just eight wins to show for it.
In fact, they could miss the playoffs entirely and have a ton of cap work to do this coming offseason. It's hard to envision the Saints being able to yet again dig themselves out of their annual cap hell, and they don't have much to be encouraged about for the future. Many of their best player are aging veterans.
QB Kenny Pickett is a bust. He's not good and should not get the 2024 NFL Season as the QB1 of the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steelers are not nearly as good as their record indicates, and Mike Tomlin seems to have hit a clear ceiling in Pittsburgh. This feels like, year to year, a team lacking enough talent that gets dragged to a winning record by their head coach. Even if they make the playoffs, they aren't going to win.
They also have negative cap space in 2024 and no franchise QB on the roster. Pittsburgh is going to have to do some cap gymnastics in 2024 and would have to do a bunch of that if they'd want to sign a free agent QB and they aren't going to have a very high first-round pick, so they'd also have to give up valuable draft capital if they wanted to move up to take a QB.
Some of their best players include TJ Watt and Cam Heyward, who are both old, as well. It's not a good future in Pittsburgh.
The Seattle Seahawks feel like the NFC version of the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Seahawks also have no cap space, a veteran, defensive head coach who has a clear ceiling, and no franchise QB in the building. Where exactly does Seattle go from here? They also won't have a very high first-round draft pick in 2024 since they are 8-8.
They also might make the playoffs, but they also may not. In 2022, the team had a shockingly good season on the backs of an efficient Geno Smith and offense. Their defense was not good, so the team naturally tried to add to this unit in 2023. Well, the offense has taken a step back and the defense still isn't good, and they have not built on their 2022 campaign.
With veteran players scattered throughout the roster, the Seahawks should either try to double-down again this coming offseason or embrace a rebuild.