What’s Next for the Divisional Round Losers?
The NFL divisional round has ended, and unfortunately for the Jaguars, Giants, Bills and Cowboys, so have their seasons.
Let's look at what’s next for the losers of the divisional round.
After selecting first overall in back-to-back drafts, the Jaguars took a huge step forward under Doug Pederson, winning a weak AFC South division and coming back from down 27-0 to beat the Chargers before losing to the Chiefs on Saturday 27-20.
If the Jaguars hope to parlay this late-season momentum into next year, it starts with continuing to build up weapons on the offense.
The Jaguars need to re-sign Evan Engram after putting up a career year with 73 catches for 766 yards. Engram will certainly command more than the one-year $9 million contract he signed last offseason.
Midseason acquisition Calvin Ridley is an unknown after being suspended for the entire season due to violating the NFL’s gambling policy. As a result, the Jaguars may want to look at wide receiver in the first few rounds of the draft as insurance.
New York Giants
First-year head coach Brian Daboll had an excellent first season in New York, leading the Giants to nine wins before upsetting the Vikings 31-24 in the Wild Card Round but eventually falling 38-7 to the Eagles.
The Giants' offseason revolves around what they choose to do with Saquon Barkley and Daniel Jones.
After two injury-riddled seasons, Barkley finally stayed healthy and had a career-high in rushing yards with 1,312 while scoring 10 touchdowns.
Barkley likely will command around the 16 million dollars a year that Christian McCaffrey makes, so don’t be surprised if we have seen Barkley’s final game in a Giants uniform.
After the Giants declined Daniel Jones’ fifth-year option, the man nicknamed Danny Dimes had his best season yet.
Jones threw for 3,205 yards and 15 touchdowns while being a massive threat on the ground rushing for 708 yards and seven touchdowns.
Jones also finally limited the turnovers, throwing a career-low five interceptions. With a weak quarterback class, expect the Giants to at least extend Jones the franchise tag and possibly a long-term extension.
After again entering the season with Super Bowl expectations, the Bills bowed out of the playoffs early, losing to the Bengals 27-10 in the Divisional Round.
Unfortunately for the Bills, they never truly got to play at full strength when it mattered most, as Micah Hyde, Von Miller and Damar Hamlin did not play a single snap in the playoffs. While star quarterback Josh Allen played through an elbow injury that certainly impacted his play.
The Bills need to get healthy to be able to compete in the competitive AFC.
The Bills will undoubtedly lose some crucial contributors as Jordan Poyer, Rodger Saffold, Devin Singletary and Tremaine Edmunds are amongst their huge crop of unrestricted free agents.
The Bills will need a solid draft and some second-year players like James Cook to take massive strides if they hope to capture that elusive Lombardi Trophy.
The Cowboys again had an excellent regular season finishing 12-5 before dominating the Buccaneers in the Wild Card Round but falling to the 49ers 19-12.
This offseason will be essential to get right as many players who need to get paid.
CeeDee Lamb and Trevon Diggs are now eligible for extensions which the Cowboys will want to get done sooner rather than later as their price will only rise.
Tony Pollard had a career year having nearly 1,400 yards from scrimmage and scoring 12 touchdowns, but he broke his fibula in the loss to the 49ers, so Pollard may be enticed to come back to Dallas on a one-year deal.
Dalton Schultz is also a free agent and should command decent money after being a top tight end for the past couple of years, which may price him out of the Cowboys' budget.
Brett Maher has likely kicked his final game for the Cowboys after missing five extra points in two playoff games, so he will also need to be replaced.
With the Cowboys' core continuing to age and defensive menace Micah Parsons being eligible for an extension next offseason, the Cowboys may need to go all in this year if they hope to win their first Super Bowl since 1995.
Ben Palillo is a third-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.