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2020 AFC South Preview

Jared Block
by in NFL on

After the first week of the NFL’s Free Agency period, let’s breakdown the moves that were made and how the AFC South shapes up pre-draft for the 2020-21 season.

–  Houston Texans (2019-20 Record: 10-6 / 1st in Division)  –  

Gained: WR- Randall Cobb, CB- Phillip Gaines, CB- Vernon Hargreaves III, RB- David Johnson, S- Eric Murray, T- Brent Qvale, DB- Jaylen Watkins
Lost: RB- Carlos Hyde, RB- Lamar Miller, WR- DeAndre Hopkins, DT- D.J. Reader, OLB- Barkevious Mingo, CB- Johnathan Joseph, S- Jahleel Addae, S- Mike Adams

Houston is in a decent spot to retool and compete with the Tennessee Titans and Indianapolis Colts for the 2020 AFC South title (sorry Jaguars fans). They have quite a bit of cap space to work with, and they used it to sign an aging Randall Cobb and a David Johnson, who hasn’t been healthy in almost two seasons. Trading away DeAndre Hopkins was a tough pill to swallow and won’t be forgotten so quickly. If there are any hiccups in the offense to start the year out, fans will be out for blood, which obviously impacts the resigning of guys like Watson, Fuller, Watt, and Tunsil moving forward in 2021.

Nevertheless, the Texans are still in a three-headed race in the South, but they may need some in-season deals to really turn the tide their way.

*Houston Texans +225 to win the AFC South*

–  Indianapolis Colts (2019-20 Record: 7-9 / 3rd in Division)  –  

Gained: DT- DeForest Buckner, CB- Xavier Rhodes, QB- Philip Rivers
Lost: QB- Brian Hoyer, WR- Devin Funchess, WR- Dontrelle Inman, WR- Chester Rogers, TE- Eric Ebron, OL- Joe Haeg, DE- Margus Hunt, DE- Jabaal Sheard, CB- Pierre Desir, S- Clayton Geathers

The Colts are top 3 in the league with around $80 million to spend before free agency week. They don’t have any crises with their own free agents and are in the market to spend, spend, spend. The biggest acquisition of the offseason for Indy is former San Diego/Los Angeles Chargers QB Philip Rivers, who will enter his 17th season in 2020. The 38-year old will look to spark a Colts team and lead them back to the playoffs after an up-and-down year that was highlighted by Brissett taking over for Andrew Luck.

In addition to adding Rivers on the offensive end, Indianapolis reinforced their defense by loading up on defensive tackle DeForest Buckner (San Francisco) and corner Xavier Rhodes (Minnesota). In order for the current ownership group to not end up on the hot seat, the Colts will have to figure out a way to get into the playoffs, and it has to be this year.

*Indianapolis Colts +175 to win the AFC South*

–  Jacksonville Jaguars (2019-20 Record: 6-10 / 4th in Division)  –  

Gained: TE- Tyler Eifert, DL – Rodney Gunter, CB- Rashaan Melvin, LB- Joe Schobert, DT- Al Woods
Lost: QB- Nick Foles, TE- Geoff Swaim, OT- Cedric Ogbuehi, DE- Calais Campbell, DT- Marcel Dareus, LB- Jake Ryan, CB- A.J. Bouye

Woof. Another team that fell hard and fast. From AFC Championship in 2017 to bottom of the division in 2019, the Jacksonville Jaguars have hit rock bottom. They were several million over the cap BEFORE free agency, don’t have much for star-power anymore, and 2020 could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.

Several studs who were key pieces of that 2017 defense are not returning to Jacksonville this fall (Calais Campbell, Marcel Dareus, A.J. Bouye). Neither Blake Bortles nor Nick Foles are on the team anymore, as the Jaguars are putting their hopes and dreams in the hands of Gardner Minshew.
With quite a few franchise players now removed from the Jaguar system, as well as a young quarterback and not much outside of DJ Chark / Leonard Fournette on offense, Jacksonville is going to have a tough time in 2020.

*Jacksonville Jaguars +2000 to win the AFC South*

–  Tennessee Titans (2019-20 Record: 9-7 / 2nd in Division)  –  

Gained: Edge- Vic Beasley, OL- Ty Sambrailo
Lost: QB- Marcus Mariota, RB- Dion Lewis, WR- Tajae Sharpe, TE- Delanie Walker, OT- Jack Conklin, DT- Jurrell Casey, LB- Wesley Woodyard, OLB- Kamalei Correa, OLB- Cameron Wake, CB- Logan Ryan

The Titans shocked the world with an impressive run all the way to the AFC Championship game in 2019, so how do they get back again in 2020? For starters, they let long-time QB Marcus Mariota walk and signed 2019 backup Ryan Tannehill to a multi-year extension. Step 1 = accomplished. Signing Derrick Henry to a monster contract is Step 2, but the Titans elected to place the franchise tag on him the day after they signed Tannehill. Nonetheless, Henry will get his money, it just might take a little longer than expected.

They lost a few weapons on both sides of the ball, but Tennessee turning into a contender now automatically makes them more intriguing from a signing perspective. Edge rusher Vic Beasley and linebacker Ty Sambrailo are a few of the acquisitions that the Titans were able to bring in. The core of this team is very solid, so not many moves were made in free agency besides letting a few ancillary pieces go. Look for the Titans to try and repeat for the AFC South title in 2020.

*Tennessee Titans +150 to win the AFC South*

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