How Would Our Expansion Team Do?
By NATHAN COOPER
This is the final article in our series of pieces imagining an NFL Expansion Draft scenario.
Before we get into how the team would do based on our numbers, here’s a reminder of who I picked with the picks by NFL team and the projected depth chart.
|Expansion Draft Recap – By Team|
|Arizona Cardinals||Chase Edmonds||RB|
|Arizona Cardinals||Zach Allen||DE|
|Atlanta Falcons||Jacob Tuioti-Mariner||DE|
|Atlanta Falcons||Jaylinn Hawkins||S|
|Baltimore Ravens||Marquise Brown||WR|
|Baltimore Ravens||Alejandro Villanueva||OL|
|Buffalo Bills||Devin Singletary||RB|
|Buffalo Bills||A.J. Klein||LB|
|Carolina Panthers||Pat Elflein||OL|
|Carolina Panthers||Joey Slye||K|
|Chicago Bears||Mario Edwards Jr.||DE|
|Chicago Bears||Bilal Nichols||DT|
|Cincinnati Bengals||Drew Sample||TE|
|Cincinnati Bengals||Mike Hilton||CB|
|Cleveland Browns||Rashard Higgins||WR|
|Cleveland Browns||Joel Bitonio||OL|
|Dallas Cowboys||Michael Gallup||WR|
|Dallas Cowboys||Jourdan Lewis||CB|
|Denver Broncos||Teddy Bridgewater||QB|
|Denver Broncos||Bryce Callahan||CB|
|Detroit Lions||John Penisini||DT|
|Detroit Lions||Jack Fox||P|
|Green Bay Packers||Jordan Love||QB|
|Green Bay Packers||Robert Tonyan||TE|
|Houston Texans||Desmond King II||CB|
|Houston Texans||Jon Weeks||LS|
|Indianapolis Colts||Zach Pascal||WR|
|Indianapolis Colts||Tyquan Lewis||DT|
|Jacksonville Jaguars||Gardner Minshew II||QB|
|Jacksonville Jaguars||James Robinson||RB|
|Kansas City Chiefs||Mecole Hardman||WR|
|Kansas City Chiefs||Tershawn Wharton||DT|
|Las Vegas Raiders||Foster Moreau||TE|
|Las Vegas Raiders||Nicholas Morrow||LB|
|Los Angeles Chargers||Justin Jackson||RB|
|Los Angeles Chargers||Oday Absouhi||OL|
|Los Angeles Rams||Austin Corbett||OL|
|Los Angeles Rams||Taylor Rapp||S|
|Miami Dolphins||Jesse Davis||OL|
|Miami Dolphins||Byron Jones||CB|
|Minnesota Vikings||Adam Thielen||WR|
|Minnesota Vikings||Josh Metellus||S|
|New England Patriots||Isaiah Wynn||OL|
|New England Patriots||Chase Winovich||DE|
|New Orleans Saints||Adam Trautman||TE|
|New Orleans Saints||Cesar Ruiz||OL|
|New York Giants||Tae Crowder||LB|
|New York Giants||Xavier McKinney||S|
|New York Jets||Vinny Curry||DE|
|New York Jets||Sheldon Rankins||DT|
|Philadelphia Eagles||Eric Wilson||LB|
|Philadelphia Eagles||Rodney McLeod||S|
|Pittsburgh Steelers||Chuks Okorafor||OL|
|Pittsburgh Steelers||Terrell Edmunds||S|
|San Francisco 49ers||Kyle Juszczyk||FB|
|San Francisco 49ers||Samson Ebukam||LB|
|Seattle Seahawks||Alton Robinson||DE|
|Seattle Seahawks||Cody Barton||LB|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||Ryan Jensen||OL|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||Carlton Davis||CB|
|Tennessee Titans||Rashaan Evans||LB|
|Tennessee Titans||Jayon Brown||LB|
|Washington Football Team||Cole Holcomb||LB|
|Washington Football Team||Jimmy Moreland||CB|
Projected Depth Chart
(click to enlarge)
How Would This Team Do?
Alex Vigderman, Lead Football Researcher at SIS, crunched the numbers to see how our team would fare.
Obviously this team doesn’t have a real schedule, so he assumed their strength of schedule to be league-wide average at .500. He used WAR per snap from the last three seasons to project each player’s WAR for this season and used a Marcel-based system where he weighted 2020 performance as a 5, 2019 as a 3, and 2018 as a 1.
Additionally, he regressed everyone by one full season’s worth of replacement-level snaps both to downweight small-sample performances and to account for everyone being on a new team.
When all the numbers were crunched, this team would accumulate 9.1 expected wins in a 17-game season based on SIS-WAR.
While this may not make the playoffs, the team is competitive and does have a chance. An above .500 record would be a major win for an expansion team and something to build upon for the future.
Looking on an individual level, the top five players in Total WAR for this hypothetical season are:
1) Teddy Bridgewater
2) Carlton Davis
3) Bryce Callahan
4) Adam Theilen
5) Chase Winovich.
Out of the 56 players I had getting snaps during the season, 46 players finished with a positive WAR.
While I would love to assume all of my starters will play 100% of the snaps, we based snap counts on last year’s, making adjustments as to whether they would get more or less playing time on this team based on the projected depth chart, and also took into account that if a player has an injury history, they would likely miss time.
When looking at this roster, the focus was put into building a strong defense that can rush the passer and cover on the back end, and an offense that is strong along the offensive line.
This team was assembled with a win-now mentality, but also with a look ahead to the future. With this roster, the team could go out and compete right away, but it also has the flexibility to make changes after Year 1, if needed. As it currently stands with these 64 players under contract, the team has just over $8 million of cap space.
There are some things to consider moving forward.
First, some of the middle to back-end of the roster will likely be traded to accumulate future draft picks. The team automatically is given the No. 2 overall pick in the next draft, so using early picks and gaining more is definitely a priority.
Additionally, a 16-man practice squad means there are still 5 spots that would need to be filled. That means the waiver wire will be watched closely and unsigned UDFAs will be signed to compete in camp and eventually fill out the practice squad.
Of the current roster, only 37 players are under contract for 2022. The 2022 Salary Cap ceiling has been set at $208.2 million, which leaves the team with more than $56.7 million in cap space going into the 2022 offseason.
With a rookie salary pool that will cost approximately $16 million for 10 draftees, that leaves about $40 million to re-sign some key free agents, make a splash on one big UFA, and then fill out the back end of the roster. The team will definitely become much younger beginning in 2022.
If this was your team, how happy would you be with it? How well do you think they’ll do?