Every NFL Team's Offseason To-Do List

Russell S. BaxterContributor IFebruary 10, 2014

Every NFL Team's Offseason To-Do List

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    First thing on the Seattle Seahawks' offseason to-do List? Build a trophy case.
    First thing on the Seattle Seahawks' offseason to-do List? Build a trophy case.Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    For each of the 32 teams in the National Football League, work is seemingly never done.

    From the Super Bowl XLVIII champion Seattle Seahawks to the first pick in the 2014 draft, the Houston Texans, there are players to evaluate, contracts to terminate and players to re-sign.

    The goal for all is to be better in 2014.

    How does this happen? The game plan is different for every team.

    So here’s a look at each club and what it may be thinking about this offseason. You will notice that each to-do list also points to the team’s regular season as well. In some instances, it’s the same key issues these clubs have been trying to resolve for more than a season.

    Meanwhile, the analysis for all 32 teams is a look back as well as a look ahead to a season that will get here faster than we care to admit.

    It all adds up to more football talk as the free-agency period draws closer and the real fun begins.

    Finally, here’s a thank you to Spotrac (subscription required) for their free-agent lists for each team.

Arizona Cardinals: 10-6 in 2013 (3rd Place, NFC West)

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    Stephen Brashear/Associated Press

    2014 Potential UFAs: 15

     

    Offseason To-Do List

    • Re-sign ILB Karlos Dansby (led team in tackles in 2013)
    • Improve record within NFC West (8-16 since 2010)
    • Continue to improve running game (23rd in NFL in 2013)


    Analysis

    Bruce Arians proved that his NFL Coach of the Year performance with the Indianapolis Colts was far from a fluke.

    How big of a turnaround did we see in the desert? Arizona had dropped 11 of its last 12 games following a 4-0 start in 2012 but rebounded to finish 10-6 under Arians.

    The defensive-minded Cardinals were a perfect fit in the powerful NFC West, despite their offensive shortcomings. Only five teams gave up fewer total yards per game, and no team in the league was better at stopping the run this past season. However, surpassing both the Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers will prove to be a very big order in 2014.

Atlanta Falcons: 4-12 in 2013 (3rd Place, NFC South)

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    Dave Martin/Associated Press

    2014 Potential UFAs: 10

     

    To-Do List

    • Restore offensive balance (32nd in NFL in rushing in 2013)
    • Bolster pass rush (32 sacks in 2013)
    • Build depth on offensive line


    Analysis

    For the first time in six seasons under general manager Thomas Dimitroff and head coach Mike Smith, the Atlanta Falcons finished with a losing record. Quarterback Matt Ryan and Co. won just four games in 2013, just one year after the club finished 13-3, was the top seed in the NFC and hosted the conference title game.

    Still, those calling for an overhaul in Atlanta should be reminded that prior to 2008, the franchise had never enjoyed back-to-back winning seasons and/or consecutive trips to the postseason.

    Now, it’s time for the current regime to prove that 2013 was the exception rather than the rule. That may be easier said than done, though, with both the Carolina Panthers and New Orleans Saints coming off of playoff campaigns this past season.

Baltimore Ravens: 8-8 in 2013 (3rd Place, AFC North)

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    Tom Uhlman/Associated Press

    2014 Potential UFAs: 13

     

    Offseason To-Do List

    • Surround QB Joe Flacco with more options
    • Reestablish running game (30th in NFL in 2013)
    • Continue to add youth to rebuilt defense


    Analysis

    After finally winning the Super Bowl in his fifth season at the helm, head coach John Harbaugh watched his revamped Baltimore Ravens suffer through an up-and-down year. The results were an 8-8 finish and the first non-playoff campaign under his guidance.

    After a terrific 2012 postseason, quarterback Joe Flacco was far from perfect in 2013, responsible for 24 of the team’s 29 turnovers. However, the surprising lack of a running game was one reason for his issues.

    Last offseason featured plenty of departures from mainly the defensive side of the ball. This time around, general manager Ozzie Newsome must contend with the possibility of tight ends Dennis Pitta and Ed Dickson, wideout Jacoby Jones and tackles Michael Oher and Eugene Monroe hitting the open market.

Buffalo Bills: 6-10 in 2013 (4th Place, AFC East)

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    Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

    2014 Potential UFAs: 7

     

    Offseason To-Do List

    • Continued progress of 2013 rookie class
    • Keeping QB EJ Manuel upright in 2014
    • Embrace arrival of new defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz


    Analysis

    Last year’s arrival of Doug Marrone, the Buffalo Bills’ seventh head coach since 1998, couldn’t prevent the team from finishing last in the AFC East for the sixth straight season.

    The franchise still owns the league’s longest playoff drought, having not reached the postseason since 1999, and has not won a division title since 1995.

    Still, there’s some promising young talent with quarterback EJ Manuel, wide receiver Robert Woods and linebacker Kiko Alonso, the team’s first three picks in 2013.

    This past season, the Bills finished second in the league with 57 sacks and forced a respectable 30 turnovers. Keeping that defensive unit intact, meaning retaining Pro Bowl free safety Jairus Byrd, figures to be a priority.

Carolina Panthers: 12-4 in 2013 (Lost NFC Divisional Playoffs)

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    Grant Halverson/Getty Images

    2014 Potential UFAs: 20

     

    Offseason To-Do List

    • Avoid another slow start
    • Learn from 2013 playoff loss to 49ers
    • Look to repeat in NFC South


    Analysis

    Another slow start by Ron Rivera’s team (1-3) looked like it may spell doom for the Carolina Panthers head coach in 2013. Instead, quarterback Cam Newton and Co. rallied to win 11 of their final 12 games and the NFC South title. Meanwhile, Rivera garnered NFL Coach of the Year honors.

    The burning question in terms of free agency for the Panthers is whether they can afford Pro Bowl defensive end Greg Hardy. The former sixth-round selection finished third in the league with 15 sacks in 2013, with seven of those sacks coming in the team’s final two regular-season games.

    Is the team ready to slap the franchise tag on the fourth-year pro? Carolina led the NFL with 60 sacks and was the league’s second-ranked defense in 2013.

Chicago Bears: 8-8 in 2013 (2nd Place, NFC North)

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    2014 Potential UFAs: 22

     

    Offseason To-Do List

    • Continued development of WR Alshon Jeffery
    • How to keep QB Jay Cutler healthy
    • Find new defensive leaders


    Analysis

    Chicago Bears general manager Phil Emery and new head coach Marc Trestman spent the 2013 offseason making sure quarterback Jay Cutler would be in a better position to succeed. What they couldn’t prevent was another injury that limited his availability. Still, the team re-signed Cutler in January to a seven-year contract and showed its commitment to the strong-armed signal-caller.

    What the Bears also couldn’t envision was the collapse of a once-proud defensive unit marred by injuries and other factors. They have their share of veterans (defensive tackle Henry Melton, cornerback Charles Tillman) to make decisions on this offseason. And will record-setting kick returner Devin Hester opt to leave the Windy City?

Cincinnati Bengals: 11-5 in 2013 (Lost AFC Wild Card Playoffs)

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    Rick Stewart/Getty Images

    2014 Potential UFAs: 13

     

    Offseason To-Do List

    • Re-sign DE Michael Johnson (franchise tag?)
    • Address QB Andy Dalton’s confidence
    • Adapt to new offensive and defensive coordinators


    Analysis

    Despite the fact that the Cincinnati Bengals have reached the playoffs a franchise-record three straight years (and counting?), the specter of not winning a postseason game since 1990 looms large.

    Marvin Lewis is the league’s second-longest-tenured head coach with the same team, trailing only Bill Belichick with the New England Patriots. But he’s winless in five appearances in the playoffs.

    Last offseason, the team did a great job making sure that one of the best defenses in the league basically stayed intact. Now, the Bengals must deal with the possibility of losing defensive end Michael Johnson and the reality of former defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer now being the head coach of the Minnesota Vikings.

Cleveland Browns: 4-12 in 2013 (4th Place, AFC North)

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    David Richard/Associated Press

    2014 Potential UFAs: 7

     

    Offseason To-Do List

    • Find a quarterback
    • Make up-and-coming defense upper echelon unit
    • Start establishing some kind of organizational continuity


    Analysis

    A little help, please?

    Mike Pettine is the eighth head coach since the Cleveland Browns made their return to the NFL in 1999. Is it any wonder why this team has lost at least 11 games each of the last six seasons?

    This is not a team without talent. Wide receiver Josh Gordon led the NFL in receiving yards in 2013, and the team features Pro Bowlers such as center Alex Mack, tight end Jordan Cameron, cornerback Joe Haden and strong safety T.J. Ward.

    However, both Mack and Ward are potential unrestricted free agents. It would not be a shock to see one of these players given the franchise tag. The Browns could least afford to let any of their stars walk away. Then again, continuity has not been the franchise’s strong suit.

Dallas Cowboys: 8-8 in 2013 (2nd Place, NFC East)

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    Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press

    2014 Potential UFAs: 11

     

    Offseason To-Do List

    • Adapt to yet another offensive play-caller (Scott Linehan)
    • Adapt to yet another defensive coordinator (Rod Marinelli)
    • Depth at running back


    Analysis

    How ‘bout that deja vu?

    The Dallas Cowboys have had chances to win the NFC East each of the last three years on the final Sunday of the season. Instead, Jason Garrett’s club has finished 8-8 each time and out of the playoffs.

    Jerry Jones’ team now owns a combined .500 winning percentage (136-136) and has just as many playoff losses as head coaches (six) over the last 17 seasons dating back to 1997.

    Rod Marinelli is now the Cowboys' fourth different defensive coordinator in five seasons, not a surprise considering they gave up the most total yards in the league in 2013.

    In terms of free agency, does Dallas want former Pro Bowl defensive end Anthony Spencer back after he missed 15 games in 2013? And is re-signing defensive tackle Jason Hatcher a priority?

Denver Broncos: 13-3 in 2013 (Lost Super Bowl XLVIII)

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    Jack Dempsey/Associated Press

    2014 Potential UFAs: 17

     

    Offseason To-Do List

    • Forget Super Bowl XLVIII
    • Address issues with OLB Von Miller
    • Coaching ball security (NFL-high 16 lost fumbles in 2013)


    Analysis

    Do the math.

    An NFL-record 606 points and 76 touchdowns scored in 2013 added up to a 43-8 loss in Super Bowl XLVIII for the Denver Broncos.

    Of course, John Fox’s team also surrendered 399 points during the regular season. Despite a brilliant and unprecedented season for veteran quarterback Peyton Manning, it all added up to a 35-point loss on the game’s biggest stage.

    Now, let’s see how many of the Broncos’ key performers return in 2014? The potential free-agent list includes running back Knowshon Moreno, wide receiver Eric Decker, guard Zane Beadles, defensive end Shaun Phillips, linebacker Paris Lenon, safety Mike Adams and cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie—all starters versus the Seattle Seahawks on that less-than-super Sunday.

Detroit Lions: 7-9 in 2013 (3rd Place, NFC North)

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    Jim Mone/Associated Press

    2014 Potential UFAs: 17

     

    Offseason To-Do List

    • Address late-season turnovers issues
    • Address another second-half collapse following solid start
    • Adjusting to new defensive coordinator Teryl Austin


    Analysis

    Because the Detroit Lions failed to finish above .500 for the second straight season, Jim Schwartz was finished as head coach in the Motor City.

    In 2012, the team lost its last eight games after a 4-4 start. This past season, the Lions dropped six of their final seven contests after forging a 6-3 record.

    It wasn’t like the Lions’ latest season didn’t have its high points. Running back Reggie Bush was a great addition to the team, and defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh looked like his old Pro Bowl self. But changes are inevitable with new head coach Jim Caldwell.

    However, one very familiar face returning for a 14th season in the Motor City is center Dominic Raiola, who re-signed with the team rather than opt for free agency.

    “It’s humbling to me that I earned another year in the NFL, that’s first and foremost,” said Raiola to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press.

Green Bay Packers: 8-7-1 in 2013 (Lost NFC Wild Card Playoffs)

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    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    2014 Potential UFAs: 16

     

    Offseason To-Do List

    • Continue to develop offensive line
    • Bigger role for RB Eddie Lacy
    • Remedy three-year slump on defense


    Analysis

    After a few years of stellar quarterback play and the lack of a running game, the Green Bay Packers finally fixed the latter in 2013.

    Unfortunately, rookie running back Eddie Lacy wound up playing with four different starting quarterbacks in 2013, as Aaron Rodgers missed a large chunk of the season. Still, Mike McCarthy’s team somehow managed an 8-7-1 record and a third straight NFC North title.

    However, this could be a very different-looking Packers team in 2014. Standout players such as defensive tackle B.J. Raji, wide receiver James Jones and cornerback Sam Shields are among 16 potential unrestricted free agents general manager Ted Thompson must make decisions on.

Houston Texans: 2-14 in 2013 (4th Place, AFC South)

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    Patric Schneider/Associated Press

    2014 Potential UFAs: 12

     

    Offseason To-Do List

    • Erase memories of 2013
    • Can QB Matt Schaub’s career be salvaged?
    • Future of RB Arian Foster


    Analysis

    From two-time defending AFC South champions to a total of two wins in 2013. Could anything have gone more wrong for the Houston Texans this past season?

    In any case, it is time to start over for a franchise that looked like it was finally on the rise. New head coach Bill O’Brien now must try to revive a team that finished nine games out of first place in the AFC South and takes a 14-game losing streak into 2014.

    The Texans own the first overall pick in May’s draft, but what do they do with it? Does the team opt for a quarterback and start from scratch at the position? Does it bolster a defensive unit that actually gave up the seventh-fewest yards in the league in 2013?

    Simply put, there are too many questions for a team that seemingly had a lot of answers just a few seasons ago.

Indianapolis Colts: 11-5 in 2013 (Lost AFC Divisional Playoffs)

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    2014 Potential UFAs: 17

     

    Offseason To-Do List

    • More support for QB Andrew Luck
    • Find another pass-rushing threat
    • Continued overall defensive improvement


    Analysis

    There’s a lot to be said for consistency one way or another.

    In 2013, the Indianapolis Colts finished 11-5 for the second straight year and once again reached the playoffs thanks to the club’s first division title since 2010. Incredibly, it marked the 17th straight season that the team had either won or lost at least 10 games.

    Quarterback Andrew Luck was much improved in many aspects in his second season, and the Colts committed a league-low 14 turnovers. However, the defense continues to be a liability despite numerous offseason changes in 2013. Consider that in two playoff games in January, Chuck Pagano’s team surrendered 44 and 43 points, respectively.

    This time around, general manager Ryan Grigson will have to get more defensive help via the draft rather than free agency.

     

Jacksonville Jaguars: 4-12 in 2013 (3rd Place, AFC South)

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    Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

    2014 Potential UFAs: 8

     

    Offseason To-Do List

    • Find out if Chad Henne (UFA) or Blaine Gabbert is the answer at quarterback
    • Continue to bolster pass rush (combined 51 sacks last 2 seasons)
    • Find a new starting center due to retirement of Brad Meester


    Analysis

    There just haven’t been too many good years for this team. Over the past six seasons, the Jacksonville Jaguars have lost more than twice as many games (65) as they have won (31). The club hasn’t won a division title since 1999 and is a combined 6-26 the last two seasons.

    Still, Gus Bradley’s team split its final eight games in 2013 following a 0-8 start.

    Is there any relief in sight?

    Jacksonville scored a league-low 247 points this past season and its offense produced only 23 touchdowns. The team has decisions to make regarding veteran running back Maurice Jones-Drew and possibly quarterback Chad Henne. Getting troubled wide receiver Justin Blackmon back on the field would be a huge help.

    Finally, Bradley must find a way for his defense to get to the quarterback. For the second straight year, the Jaguars finished at the bottom of the league when it came to sacks.

Kansas City Chiefs: 11-5 in 2013 (Lost AFC Wild Card Playoffs)

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    Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

    2014 Potential UFAs: 13

     

    Offseason To-Do List

    • Address defensive issues
    • Wide receiver help
    • Beating the Broncos and Chargers (combined 0-8 last 2 seasons)


    Analysis

    No. 9. No. 9.

    Raise your hand if you thought the Kansas City Chiefs would get off to a 9-0 start in 2013. The odds were long considering the team was a combined 9-23 the previous two seasons and residents of the AFC West basement each year.

    New head coach Andy Reid helped orchestrate the best start in the league the past season. Unfortunately, it materialized into a 2-5 finish. The team’s first playoff appearance since 2010 ended in disappointing fashion after it squandered a 28-point second-half lead to the Indianapolis Colts in the Wild Card Round.

    If the Chiefs are to end the Denver Broncos’ three-year reign as AFC West champions, they may need to do it minus a few familiar faces, as left tackle Branden Albert, wide receiver Dexter McCluster and defensive end Tyson Jackson are all slated to become free agents next month.

Miami Dolphins: 8-8 in 2013 (3rd Place, AFC East)

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    Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

    2014 Potential UFAs: 16

     

    Offseason To-Do List

    • Address the offensive line (allowed NFL-high 58 sacks in 2013)
    • Consistency with running game
    • The locker room


    Analysis

    The good news for the Miami Dolphins is the fact that they did not finish with a losing record for the first time since 2008. The bad news is that two straight losses to close the season dropped Joe Philbin’s club to 8-8 and out of the playoffs.

    The Dolphins were one of the league’s most aggressive teams during the 2013 offseason. The club was aggressive both during free agency and in the draft, signing veterans such as wide receivers Mike Wallace and Brandon Gibson, linebacker Dannell Ellerbe and tackle Tyson Clabo. Miami also moved up in the draft and grabbed defensive end Dion Jordan with the third overall pick.

    What will the Dolphins defense look like in 2014? Defensive tackles Randy Starks and Paul Soliai and Pro Bowl cornerback Brent Grimes are all potential unrestricted free agents. So is guard Richie Incognito, and it will be interesting to see what the future holds for him in March.

Minnesota Vikings: 5-10-1 in 2013 (4th Place, NFC North)

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    Ann Heisenfelt/Associated Press

    2014 Potential UFAs: 17

     

    Offseason To-Do List

    • Continued pass-catching improvement by WR Cordarrelle Patterson
    • New offensive coordinator Norv Turner to solidify QB position
    • Continued improvement by the secondary


    Analysis

    The good times have been too few and too far in between for the Minnesota Vikings. In 2013, the team fell to 5-10-1 one season after finishing 10-6 and in the playoffs the season before.

    Now, it’s Mike Zimmer’s turn to try and lead this club to a championship. The former defensive coordinator of the Cincinnati Bengals inherits a club that allowed the most points in the league (480) this past season.

    Last April, the Vikings were the first team since the 2001 St. Louis Rams to draft three players in the first round. Defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd, cornerback Xavier Rhodes and wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson all saw their share of action in 2013, and Patterson wound up in the Pro Bowl as a kick returner.

    However, veteran defensive linemen like Jared Allen and Kevin Williams are potential free agents. Could they return with the chance of playing for the heralded Zimmer?

New England Patriots: 12-4 in 2013 (Lost AFC Championship Game)

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    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    2014 Potential UFAs: 12

     

    Offseason To-Do List

    • Continue to concentrate on defense via draft
    • Add depth at offensive tackle
    • Future of TE Rob Gronkowski

     

    Analysis

    These days, it seems like we spend more time talking about what players and teams haven’t done rather than what they have accomplished.

    Dating back to 2001, the New England Patriots have posted 13 consecutive winning seasons, tied for the sixth-longest streak in league history. Bill Belichick, the league’s current longest active head coach with the same team, has led the Pats to five straight AFC East titles and double-digit victories in 11 straight seasons.

    New England has also reached the conference title game each of the last three years but still hasn’t won a Super Bowl since 2004.

    Much was made about the team’s offense and passing attack last season. However, only the Denver Broncos and Chicago Bears scored more points than the Patriots in 2013. Injuries devastated a potentially solid defense this past season.

    Wide receiver Julian Edelman and Pro Bowl cornerback Aqib Talib are the big names on the team’s potential free-agent list. But as we have seen in the past, perhaps no player is expendable when it comes to this organization.

New Orleans Saints: 11-5 in 2013 (Lost NFC Divisional Playoffs)

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    Chris Graythen/Getty Images

    2014 Potential UFAs: 17

     

    Offseason To-Do List

    • Keeping potential unrestricted free agent TE Jimmy Graham
    • Learning how to win consistently on road
    • Bigger role for ground game (25th in NFL in 2013) 

     

    Analysis

    While it was a nice bounce-back season for the New Orleans Saints in 2013, perhaps it felt a bit unsatisfying for head coach Sean Payton and his squad.

    A 9-2 start and seeming control of the NFC South turned into three losses in the final five weeks. The Saints settled for a wild-card berth instead of a division title, and even though they advanced to the divisional round, their season ended in Seattle for the second time in four years.

    While New Orleans remains one of the best offensive teams in the game, its defensive unit made major strides after a forgettable 2012 in which it allowed the most yards in a season in NFL history.

    Of course, let’s see what it will take for the club to retain the services of Pro Bowl tight end Jimmy Graham, who led the NFL with 16 touchdown receptions this past season.

New York Giants: 7-9 in 2013 (3rd Place, NFC East)

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    Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY

    2014 Potential UFAs: 23

     

    Offseason To-Do List

    • Eliminating those turnovers (NFL-high 44 in 2013)
    • Putting complete season together
    • Bounce-back season for RB David Wilson


    Analysis

    One of these years, the New York Giants will perform well from start to finish.

    In contrast to recent seasons, Tom Coughlin’s club stumbled out of the gate only to finish strong in 2013. The Giants were 7-3 in their final 10 outings following the club’s first 0-6 start since 1976.

    Still, the team’s 7-9 record shouldn’t be a huge surprise considering Big Blue’s recent history. Dating back to 2006, the Giants have won more than 10 games just once in eight seasons.

    New York also did something else for the second time in four years: lead the league in turnovers. Thanks to an NFL-high 27 interceptions by quarterback Eli Manning, Coughlin’s club coughed up the ball 44 times.

    Now, let’s see how much turnover there will be on the team’s roster. Potential unrestricted free agents include defensive end Justin Tuck, wide receiver Hakeem Nicks and safety Stevie Brown.

New York Jets: 8-8 in 2013 (2nd Place, AFC East)

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    Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

    2014 Potential UFAs: 19

     

    Offseason To-Do List

    • Reduce QB Geno Smith’s turnovers (25 in 2013) by half
    • More balance on offense (6th in rushing, 31st in NFL in passing in 2013)
    • Turn improving defense into opportunistic unit


    Analysis

    One look at last year’s offseason departures for the New York Jets may bring back some bad memories for the team’s fans. Among those moving on were cornerback Darrelle Revis, safeties LaRon Landry and Yeremiah Bell, linebacker Bart Scott, running back Shonn Greene and tight end Dustin Keller.

    Still, despite a turnover-plagued season by rookie quarterback Geno Smith and the failure to win two games in a row for the majority of the year, the season resulted in an 8-8 campaign. It was enough to make sure Rex Ryan would return as head coach in 2014 and beyond.

    Youth has been served in many regards, especially on Ryan’s side of the ball, as defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson was named the 2013 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year. Standouts such as defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson and linebacker Quinton Coples were part of a unit that finished 11th in the NFL in total yards allowed.

    Now, the club needs to find more than its share of playmakers on the offensive side of the football.

Oakland Raiders: 4-12 in 2013 (4th Place, AFC West)

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    Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODA

    2014 Potential UFAs: 18

     

    Offseason To-Do List

    • Post first winning season since 2002
    • Establish defensive continuity
    • Find a reliable young running back


    Analysis

    It is now 11 straight years and counting that the Oakland Raiders have failed to finish with a winning record.

    In 2002, the club was 11-5 and reached Super Bowl XXXVII. Since 2003, the Silver and Black own a dismal 53-123 mark and are coming off a second straight 4-12 campaign.

    Last offseason, general manager Reggie McKenzie rebuilt the defense via free agency. He may have to do the same again in 2014, with many of that unit’s starters signing one-year contracts a year ago.

    Are the Raiders also ready to watch running back Darren McFadden leave? The former first-round pick has yet to play a full NFL season in six years in the league. And who exactly will be the team’s quarterback in seven months?

Philadelphia Eagles: 10-6 in 2013 (Lost NFC Wild Card Playoffs)

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    Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

    2014 Potential UFAs: 10

     

    Offseason To-Do List

     

    Analysis

    Head coach Chip Kelly’s first season in the City of Brotherly Love was starting to look like Andy Reid’s final season with the Philadelphia Eagles: a record of below .500 and the inability to win a home game.

    But faster than you could duck, a 3-5 start turned into a 7-1 finish and an unexpected NFC East title for the Birds.

    Thanks to running back LeSean McCoy, the Eagles ranked first in the league in rushing this past season. And with the help of second-year quarterback Nick Foles, Kelly’s balanced attack finished second in the NFL in total yards.

    If Philadelphia is to take the next step, work is needed on a defensive unit that played better as the year wore on but that certainly lacks consistency.

Pittsburgh Steelers: 8-8 in 2013 (2nd Place, AFC North)

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    Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

    2014 Potential UFAs: 21

     

    Offseason To-Do List

    • Finding stability on offensive line
    • Bigger role for second-year RB Le’Veon Bell
    • Build on 6-2 finish (following 2-6 start in 2013)

     

    Analysis

    The Pittsburgh Steelers finished with an 8-8 mark in 2013, the second consecutive year the club finished with a .500 record.

    However, Mike Tomlin’s team won six of its final eight games and closed the year with three consecutive victories. That was in stark contrast to 2012, when the Black and Gold dropped five of their last seven games following a 6-3 start.

    Still, there’s work to be done if the team is to get back to contender status. The defense has shown some signs of age and was susceptible to the run last season. The Steelers have to make some decisions regarding defensive ends Brett Keisel and Ziggy Hood, outside linebacker Jason Worilds and free safety Ryan Clark.

    Also, will quarterback Ben Roethlisberger have both Pro Bowler Antonio Brown and potential free-agent wideout Emmanuel Sanders at his disposal in 2014? Stay tuned.

St. Louis Rams: 7-9 in 2013 (4th Place, NFC West)

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    Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

    2014 Potential UFAs: 8

     

    Offseason To-Do List

    • Keeping QB Sam Bradford upright
    • Continue to expand role of second-year WR Tavon Austin
    • Improve play on road (2-6) and within division (1-5) from 2013

     

    Analysis

    In 2013, the St. Louis Rams won exactly seven games for the second straight year. But the improving team still hasn’t enjoyed a winning season since 2003 or gone on to reach the playoffs since 2004.

    Last season, Jeff Fisher’s club took a step backward when it came to its NFC West rivals. In his first season on the job, St. Louis was 4-1-1 versus divisional competition. This past season, the Rams defeated the Arizona Cardinals in the season opener and then lost their last five games within the division.

    The team’s 2013 rookie class offered some hope with wide receiver Tavon Austin, linebacker Alec Ogletree (team leader in tackles) and running back Zac Stacy (team leader in rushing). Getting four-year veteran quarterback Sam Bradford back on the field is a big key.

    Among the team’s potential eight unrestricted free agents is offensive lineman Rodger Saffold, who saw action along the offensive front this past season.

San Diego Chargers: 9-7 in 2013 (Lost AFC Divisional Playoffs)

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    Al Behrman/Associated Press

    2014 Potential UFAs: 13

     

    Offseason To-Do List

    • Improving the pass rush (35 sacks in 2013)
    • Finding way to force more turnovers (17 in 2013)
    • Building on success of RB Ryan Mathews

     

    Analysis

    A season that began for a team that was finding ways to lose games in September ended with the San Diego Chargers finding their way into the 2013 postseason.

    Following a 5-7 start, the Bolts closed the season with four straight wins, secured a playoff berth and then went on to handle the Cincinnati Bengals in the Wild Card Round.

    Quarterback Philip Rivers earned NFL Comeback Player of the Year honors after a season in which he threw nearly three times as many touchdown passes (32) as he did interceptions and led the league in completion percentage (69.5). And perhaps it’s somewhat ironic that Frank Reich is Rivers’ new offensive coordinator.

    Defensively, the Chargers were inconsistent at best and far from opportunistic. Re-signing potential free-agent inside linebacker Donald figures to be a priority.

San Francisco 49ers: 12-4 in 2013 (Lost NFC Championship Game)

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    Chuck Burton/Associated Press

    2014 Potential UFAs: 11

     

    Offseason To-Do List

    • More consistency from QB Colin Kaepernick
    • Find WR opposite Michael Crabtree (re-sign Anquan Boldin?)
    • Find a way to win at Seattle (0-3 last two seasons, including playoffs)

     

    Analysis

    Talk about streaking.

    After eight straight non-winning seasons from 2003-10, the San Francisco 49ers have now reached the NFC title game three consecutive years under head coach Jim Harbaugh. Unfortunately, none of those showings resulted in a Lombardi Trophy.

    Now, we will see how the Niners attack being the pursuers rather than the target. After winning a pair of division titles, Harabugh’s club actually finished with more wins in 2013 than it did a year earlier. But that wasn’t enough to prevent the Seattle Seahawks from grabbing the top spot in the NFC West.

    The San Francisco defense played well last season after a slow start but risks losing potential free-agent strong safety Donte Whitner. The 49ers were fifth overall in total defense last season and allowed the third-fewest points in the NFL.

    On the other side of the football, veteran wide receiver Anquan Boldin led the team in receptions and receiving yards in his first year with the club but is also free to leave if he chooses.

     

Seattle Seahawks: 13-3 in 2013 (Won Super Bowl XLVIII)

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    Jim O'Connor-USA TODAY Sports

    2014 Potential UFAs: 17

     

    Offseason To-Do List

    • Finding way to keep WR/KR Percy Harvin on field
    • Offensive line depth
    • Avoiding complacency

     

    Analysis

    It took four years under his direction, but head coach Pete Carroll and the organization got the job done in the Pacific Northwest. 

    The Seattle Seahawks’ memorable 43-8 win in Super Bowl XLVIII was one of the great overall performances in NFL postseason annals.

    What lies down the road for the defending champions? While the team has done a great job bringing in talent and building depth, it would probably like to bring back some of the major contributors to its past season. Defensive end Michael Bennett led the team in sacks, and wideout Golden Tate caught a team-high 64 passes in 2013.

    Let’s not also forget placekicker Steve Hauschka, who led the team in scoring with 143 points. All three performers are scheduled to hit the open market on March 11.

    For the most part, this is a team with very few issues in terms of personnel. Let’s not forget that the Seahawks have allowed the fewest points in the league each of the last two seasons.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 4-12 in 2013 (4th Place, NFC South)

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    Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

    2014 Potential UFAs: 19

     

    Offseason To-Do List

    • Return of healthy RB Doug Martin
    • Put end to longtime pass-rushing issues
    • New offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford's rapport with QB Mike Glennon

     

    Analysis

    In between losing their first eight games and dropping their final three contests, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers posted four wins in a five-game stretch. However, that wasn’t enough to prevent a third head coaching change in six seasons.

    The Bucs brought back a part of their successful past in Lovie Smith, who was out of coaching in 2013 after nine seasons with the Chicago Bears from 2004-12. He figures to make an impact on a defensive unit that was improved this past season but remains in the middle of the pack. Tampa Bay forced a very-respectable 31 turnovers, and that number could increase in 2014.

    Despite last season’s additions of Pro Bowl cornerback Darrelle Revis and free safety Dashon Goldson, slowing down opposing quarterbacks remains an issue. Over the last six seasons, the Bucs have totaled 168 sacks and allowed 164 touchdown passes.

Tennessee Titans: 7-9 in 2013 (2nd Place, AFC South)

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    Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

    2014 Potential UFAs: 15

     

    Offseason To-Do List

    • Keep QB Jake Locker healthy (with help of Ken Whisenhunt)
    • Learn how to win within division again (3-9 since 2012)
    • Reestablish home field advantage (3-5 in 2013)

     

    Analysis

    It was not that long ago (2008) that the Tennessee Titans owned the league’s best record at 13-3. But the AFC’s top seed that season failed to win a playoff game and hasn't been back to the postseason since. Now, Ken Whisenhunt replaces head coach Mike Munchak after three seasons on the job.

    The team showed some promise last season after getting off to a 3-1 start. But keeping young quarterback Jake Locker on the field continues to be an issue. Considering what Whisenhunt (and Mike McCoy) was able to do with quarterback Philip Rivers this past season, don’t bet against the one-time Arizona Cardinals head coach curing what has ailed Tennessee’s young signal-caller.

    In 2012, the Titans allowed a league-high and franchise-record 471 points. The team cut that total back by 90 points this past season (381), but there’s still plenty of work to be done there and the addition of defensive coordinator Ray Horton could be the perfect tonic.

Washington Redskins: 3-13 in 2013 (4th Place, NFC East)

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    Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

    2014 Potential UFAs: 18

     

    Offseason To-Do List

    • Health of QB Robert Griffin III
    • Ball security (14 turnovers in 2012, 34 turnovers in 2013)
    • Defensive overhaul (allowed 52 offensive touchdowns in 2013)


    Analysis

    When it was all said and done, head coach Mike Shanahan produced just one winning season in four years with the Washington Redskins.

    But before you blame the team’s dismal 3-13 finish and season-ending eight-game losing streak on the veteran sideline leader, know that there were plenty of reasons for the disappointing fall from grace.

    Defensive coordinator Jim Haslett’s unit continues to have its issues. The Redskins linebacking corps could have a whole new look what with the retirement of London Fletcher and the possible departure of potential free agents Brian Orakpo and Perry Riley.

    As far as the status of quarterback Robert Griffin III, the league’s Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2012, no doubt we will be updated sooner than later.