With the NFL offseason officially getting underway in just a few short weeks, here’s a look at which teams have the most work to do in free agency, the draft and beyond.
10. Atlanta Falcons: The pass rush remains practically nonexistent, but they have almost no money to spend. They’ve already kissed goodbye to Vic Beasley Jr., and standout tight end Austin Hooper is also scheduled to hit the open market in March.
9. Los Angeles Chargers: For the first time in practically two decades, they have to find a quarterback. And they have to do so under a lot of pressure as they move into a new stadium while in win-now mode. The window is open, and in addition to replacing Philip Rivers, they’ll have to keep or replace Hunter Henry and rejuvenate the bad offensive line.
8. Cincinnati Bengals: Drafting Joe Burrow first overall might be obvious, but they’ll also have to convince Burrow — and everybody else — that they’re moving in the right direction and are serious about winning. That probably means reshaping the offensive line immediately, because they have to give the LSU product more support than they can offer right now. They also have to deal with beloved impending free agent A.J. Green.
7. Miami Dolphins: The entire roster needs to be rebuilt, pretty much from scratch. But the Dolphins don’t top this list because they’re not really in a rush. Still, a cap-rich team with six of the top 70 draft picks will be wheeling and dealing aggressively in March and April.
6. Jacksonville Jaguars: The cap-strapped Jags will have tough decisions to make on expensive key players Yannick Ngakoue, Calais Campbell, Marcell Dareus, A.J. Bouye. and Marqise Lee. And wothen they’ll have to pick between Nick Foles and Gardner Minshew II at quarterback. Their work’s cut out for them.
5. Cleveland Browns: They won’t be big players in free agency or the draft, but the Browns still have to find a way to fix a horrendous offensive line. Meanwhile, the new regime has to foster a better atmosphere, and the new coaching staff has to prep quarterback Baker Mayfield for what might be a make-or-break season. They’ll have their hands full in Berea.
4. Carolina Panthers: Are they bringing back Cam Newton or moving on ahead of the final year of Newton’s deal? And if they bring him back, are they extending him? Carolina might still figure a window is open, but now Luke Kuechly and Greg Olsen will have to be replaced as the entire roster adjusts to a brand-new coaching staff.
3. Dallas Cowboys: You might have heard that star quarterback Dak Prescott, star wide receiver Amari Cooper, and strong cornerback Byron Jones are all headed toward free agency for a Cowboys team that can’t afford to take a step backward considering the expensive talent elsewhere on the roster.
2. Tennessee Titans: They have the league’s highest-rated passer and leading rusher from 2019, but both Ryan Tannehill and Derrick Henry are slated to hit the open market. But on top of that, right tackle Jack Conklin and slot cornerback Logan Ryan have expiring contracts as well. The Titans have money to spend, but it’ll be extremely hard to keep that band together.
1. Minnesota Vikings: Standout pass-rusher Everson Griffen will hit free agency along with quality young defensive backs Anthony Harris, Mackensie Alexander, and Trae Waynes for a Vikings team that has no money to spend, and will also have to decide what to do with expensive veteran corner Xavier Rhodes. Plus, quarterback Kirk Cousins is entering the final year of his contract. Do they extend him to raise short-term money? Several major decisions will give general manager Rick Spielman headaches this spring.