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Every NFL Team's Biggest Need After First 2 Weeks of Free Agency

Kristopher KnoxFeatured ColumnistMarch 21, 2014

Every NFL Team's Biggest Need After First 2 Weeks of Free Agency

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    Patrick Semansky/Associated Press

    The goal for every NFL team every offseason should be to put together as strong a roster as realistically (and financially) possible.

    Teams that are looking for upgrades at key positions have a number of means to improve in the six months between the playoffs and preseason. They can acquire fresh talent via the annual NFL draft, trades or by selecting from the league's crop of unsigned players in free agency.

    Since free agency kicks off at the beginning of each new league year, it is the first chance and often first choice for teams to begin plugging holes along the roster.

    Unfortunately, filling every vacancy in free agency is virtually impossible, and teams are still left with needs as the offseason unfolds. With the initial free-agent spending spree now in the books, it is an appropriate time to take a look at the remaining needs of each of the NFL's 32 franchises. 

    To determine each team's biggest need, we will first examine those key needs that existed before free agency. We can then determine which holes, if any, have been filled during the period and make an argument for which need is greatest moving forward. 

Buffalo Bills

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    Bill Wippert/Associated Press

    Key Offseason Needs: OT, WR, LB, S

     

    Analysis

    Losing Pro Bowl safety Jairus Byrd hurts the Bills defense, but it's hard to fault Buffalo for not wanting to outdo the ridiculous $56 million deal he got from the New Orleans Saints.

    Jairus Byrd believe he was worth $9M a year. Source says #Saints are paying him $56M with $28M guaranteed over 6 years

    — Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 12, 2014

    While the loss of Byrd leaves a major hole at the back end of the Buffalo defense, the Bills did a nice job of strengthening their linebacker corps in free agency. They brought in both Keith Rivers and Brandon Spikes as unrestricted additions. This should help improve the front seven and allow the team to focus on the secondary during May's draft.

    Buffalo would also likely benefit from adding another capable wideout to complement Scott Chandler and Steve Johnson and to help continue the development of young quarterback EJ Manuel

     

    Biggest Remaining Need: Offensive Tackle

    If the Bills want to help Manuel continue to grow in his second professional season, they would do well to upgrade his pass protection. The right tackle position, in particular, could use a boost. Last year's starter Erik Pears ranked just 55th overall among offensive tackles in 2013, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required).

Miami Dolphins

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    Joel Auerbach/Getty Images

    Key Offseason Needs: OT, G, RB, CB

     

    Analysis

    The Miami Dolphins have done an excellent job of filling holes early in free agency. 

    Adding former Kansas City Chiefs tackle Branden Albert gives Miami one of the league's better pass-protectors (ranked 11th among tackles in pass blocking for 2013 by Pro Football Focus), while the addition of guard Shelley Smith should solidify another position along the offensive line.

    Cornerback Cortland Finnegan should bring some much-needed physicality to the secondary, though his time as an elite talent is likely behind him.

    The team could still use help along the offensive line as well as a complement to running back Lamar Miller, who led the team with 709 rushing yards last season.

     

    Biggest Remaining Need: Offensive Tackle

    The addition of Albert should lock down one tackle position, but the other side of the line remains a major question mark. According to Pro Football Focus, right tackle Tyson Clabo was the best tackle on Miami's roster last season, but he ranked just 45th overall at the position.

New England Patriots

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    Elsa/Getty Images

    Key Offseason Needs: WR, C, CB, TE

     

    Analysis

    The New England Patriots scored big in free agency, strengthening their secondary with the likes of former Seattle Seahawks cornerback Brandon Browner and one-time rival Darrelle Revis. 

    New England also made some moves to strengthen its receiving corps, bringing back Julian Edelman and adding Brandon LaFell. However, the receiver moves aren't as impressive as those made in the secondary, and the Patriots could still use a true No. 1 wideout.

    The Patriots could also use some depth at tight end, where Rob Gronkowski is recovering after he suffered yet another serious injury late last season.

    MRI on Rob Gronkowski confirmed torn ACL, torn MCL. Season done.

    — Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) December 9, 2013

     

    Biggest Remaining Need: Center

    Veteran center Ryan Wendell was one of the biggest weaknesses on the Patriots offense last season (Pro Football Focus ranked him 35th in terms of pass protection in 2013 among centers), and he has yet to be re-signed. While it wouldn't be an exciting move, adding a young, starting-caliber center early in the draft would be far from a bad decision. 

New York Jets

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    Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

    Key Offseason Needs: WR, G, CB, QB

     

    Analysis

    The New York Jets have made a few interesting moves during free agency, though none of them appears to be franchise-altering additions.

    The biggest new addition is that of former Denver Broncos wide receiver Eric Decker, who at least adds starting-caliber talent to the receiving corps. The addition of offensive tackle Breno Giacomini helps things along the offensive line, although the team could still use an aggressive, run-blocking interior lineman.

    While some may view Decker as more of a complementary receiver than a true No. 1 receiver, the former Denver standout may be able to fill that role in New York (he ranked 11th overall among all wideouts last season, according to Pro Football Focus). 

    Adding a veteran quarterback to help mentor Geno Smith should also be a priority.

     

    Biggest Remaining Need: Cornerback

    The Jets defense ranked just 22nd against the pass last season (246.7 yards per game allowed). Therefore it makes sense to add cornerback help even if New York decides to bring back former starter and current free agent Antonio Cromartie. According to Brian Costello of the New York Post, bringing back Cromartie is unlikely:

    League source on Jets: "Don't count on them getting Cromartie. They're not being very aggressive." #nyj

    — Brian Costello (@BrianCoz) March 18, 2014

Baltimore Ravens

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    Rob Carr/Getty Images

    Key Offseason Needs: OT, C, WR, S

     

    Analysis

    The Baltimore Ravens moved quickly to bring back starting left tackle Eugene Monroe, which means at least part of the offensive line should be in good shape for the foreseeable future.

    The Ravens also pounced quickly on wide receiver Steve Smith after he was released by the Carolina Panthers. According to the Ravens' official website, Smith was signed to a three-year, $11.5 million contract. The teams also added secondary depth by signing former Cincinnati Bengals safety Jeromy Miles.

    This means that two of the team's bigger needs have been met, though Baltimore could still stand to add a starting-caliber safety to the mix and more offensive line help.

     

    Biggest Remaining Need: Offensive Tackle

    By re-signing Monroe, the Ravens have ensured that they won't have to worry about the left tackle position next season. The right tackle position, however, is another story. The Tennessee Titans signed former starter Michael Oher to a four-year, $20 million contract

Cincinnati Bengals

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    Rob Carr/Getty Images

    Key Offseason Needs: CB, DE, LB, OT

     

    Analysis

    Unfortunately, the Cincinnati Bengals seem to be one of the few teams who have gotten significantly weaker through free agency this season.

    They have already lost starting defensive end Michael Johnson, versatile offensive tackle Anthony Collins and slot receiver Andrew Hawkins and have released linebacker James Harrison and starting center Kyle Cook.

    Browns sign free agent wide receiver Andrew Hawkins after Bengals decline to match offer sheet http://t.co/NCvB1DUPOp (@twithersAP)

    — AP NFL (@AP_NFL) March 18, 2014

    Cincinnati has done little to bolster its roster, although the decision to extend linebacker Vincent Rey could pay long-term dividends. He finished the 2013 season with 57 tackles, 4.0 sacks and two interceptions.

     

    Biggest Remaining Need: Cornerback

    The losses of Johnson and Collins create new holes along the Bengals roster, but the biggest remains at cornerback. Cincinnati has struggled to find a viable counterpart for veteran Leon Hall, who had his own struggles with injuries last season. 

    The good news is that the Bengals have some (mostly aging) depth at the cornerback position but lack a consistent starter opposite Hall. 

Cleveland Browns

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    David Richard/Associated Press

    Key Offseason Needs: WR, LB, RB, QB

     

    Analysis

    Releasing veteran inside linebacker D'Qwell Jackson prior to free agency created a need at the position. The decision to not re-sign strong safety T.J. Ward created an avoidable need there as well. 

    Fortunately, the Browns did a solid job of restocking both positions in free agency, adding San Francisco 49ers safety Donte Whitner and Arizona Cardinals linebacker Karlos Dansby early in the signing period.

    Cleveland also helped fill its need at running back by adding former Houston Texans backup Ben Tate nearly a week after free agency began. The team helped bolster the receiving corps by plucking slot receiver Andrew Hawkins away from the Cincinnati Bengals as a restricted free agent.

    This, of course, leaves one major position in need of an upgrade. 

     

    Biggest Remaining Need: Quarterback 

    No surprises here. The Browns were most likely looking to bring in competition for Brian Hoyer at the position even before releasing Brandon Weeden and Jason Campbell. Now, the Browns have no choice but to do so. Don't be surprised if Cleveland signs or trades for a veteran signal-caller and adds a rookie in the draft.

Pittsburgh Steelers

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    Joe Sargent/Getty Images

    Key Offseason Needs: DL, OT, S, WR

     

    Analysis

    The Pittsburgh Steelers managed to bring some help to the back end of their defense by adding former Carolina Panthers and Oakland Raiders safety Mike Mitchell during free agency. Mitchell, who started 14 games for the Panthers last season, was inked to a five-year contract, according to the Steelers' official website

    The Steelers also added some offensive line help in the form of center Cody Wallace and guard Guy Whimper. However, they could still use an upgrade over tackle Mike Adams. Last season, he ranked just 62nd overall among offensive tackles, according to Pro Football Focus.

    Pittsburgh could also stand to get younger along the defensive line, although other roster decisions have created a more pressing need.

     

    Biggest Remaining Need: Wide Receiver

    The Steelers chose to retain wideout Emmanuel Sanders as a restricted free agent last offseason but allowed him to leave for the Denver Broncos this year. The team also has yet to re-sign receiver Jerricho Cotchery.

    This puts Pittsburgh in dire need of a wide receiver. Sanders was the team's second-leading receiver with 67 catches for 740 yards and six touchdowns. Cotchery ranked fourth on the team in receptions (46), second in yardage (602) and first in touchdown receptions (10). 

Houston Texans

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    Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

    Key Offseason Needs: OT, TE, QB, RB

     

    Analysis

    The Houston Texans have been relatively quiet this year in free agency; their only notable transaction was the re-signing of tight end Garrett Graham.

    The loss of running back Ben Tate to the Cleveland Browns opened up a backup job behind starter Arian Foster, and the team would probably benefit from getting Graham a partner to take over for the departed Owen Daniels.

    Starting right tackle Ryan Harris has also been allowed to test the free-agent waters, but Houston could likely do with an upgrade at the position regardless. Harris ranked just 57th among all offensive tackles last year, according to Pro Football Focus

     

    Biggest Remaining Need: Quarterback

    The Texans have kept their plans for the upcoming draft relatively close to the vest, but chances are good that quarterback Matt Schaub is out as the starter whether Houston selects a signal-caller with the first overall pick or not. 

    According to NFL.com's Ian Rapoport, the Texans are looking to trade Schaub, which would leave a massive hole under center. Unless, of course, new head coach Bill O'Brien believes Case Keenum is the answer.

    While free agency continues, #Texans continue their push to trade QB Matt Schaub & his $14.5M cap hit. #Raiders & #Browns have some interest

    — Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 17, 2014

Indianapolis Colts

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    Rob Carr/Getty Images

    Key Offseason Needs: RB, WR, S, LB

     

    Analysis

    No one in the Indianapolis Colts organization is likely to complain if the team goes out and builds an arsenal of targets for quarterback Andrew Luck. However, the one-year deal the team gave to free-agent wideout Hakeem Nicks likely means the team can turn its attention to more pressing needs.

    Indianapolis' run defense was bad last season (ranked 26th in the league, allowing 125.1 yards per game), so adding any capable player to the front seven would be a plus. The addition of former Browns linebacker D'Qwell Jackson should at least provide an improvement over the departed Pat Angerer, who ranked 36th among all inside linebackers by Pro Football Focus last season. 

    Indianapolis could also use a complement to running back Trent Richardson. Donald Brown joined the San Diego Chargers early in the signing period. 

     

    Biggest Remaining Need: Safety

    While the Colts were respectable against the pass last season (ranked 13th, allowing 231.9 yards per game through the air), they need to find a way to replace longtime safety Antoine Bethea sooner rather than later. 

Jacksonville Jaguars

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    Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

    Key Offseason Needs: QB, DT, DE, RB

     

    Analysis 

    The Jacksonville Jaguars have done an excellent job of shoring up their defensive front so far in free agency. The team re-signed defensive end Jason Babin, added defensive end Chris Clemons and brought in defensive tackles Red Bryant and Ziggy Hood.

    This should allow the Jaguars to focus on other areas of need like on offense, where the departure of Maurice Jones-Drew has left a void at the running back position. 

    The Jaguars have plenty of other holes to fill, but one stands out above the rest. 

     

    Biggest Remaining Need: Quarterback

    Not much of a surprise here. Though the Jaguars did re-sign journeyman quarterback Chad Henne, Jacksonville is still likely to look elsewhere for the long-term answer at the position. 

    There was a (brief) time when it looked like former Missouri standout Blaine Gabbert could be that answer. The team benched him three games into his third season and then traded him to the San Francisco 49ers early on in free agency. 

Tennessee Titans

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    Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

    Key Offseason Needs: QB, RB, CB, OT

     

    Analysis

    The Tennessee Titans and new head coach Ken Whisenhunt may decide to give quarterback Jake Locker another year to prove that he can lock down the starting job (and that he can stay healthy). If so, the addition of veteran signal-caller Charlie Whitehurst makes sense. 

    Adding offensive tackle Michael Oher also makes sense, as the move should help strengthen an offense that ranked just 27th in pass protection, according to Pro Football Focus

    Should the Titans decide to move on from running back Chris Johnson, they may be in the market for a new back as well. According to Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com, the Titans do want to move Johnson and there is a trade market for him. 

     

    Biggest Remaining Need: Cornerback

    The Titans have a need at cornerback thanks to Pro Bowler Alterraun Verner leaving for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers via free agency. He was ranked 12th overall last season among cornerbacks by Pro Football Focus.

Denver Broncos

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    Ben Margot/Associated Press

    Key Offseason Needs: RB, G, CB, LB

     

    Analysis

    After being thoroughly embarrassed in the Super Bowl, the Denver Bronco decided to take an aggressive approach to free agency to ensure it doesn't happen next season.

    Adding T.J. Ward, Aqib Talib and DeMarcus Ware should help increase the talent pool on the defensive side of the football, while bringing in former Steelers receiver Emmanuel Sanders will give quarterback Peyton Manning another target.

    However, the Broncos could still benefit from adding depth to their backfield, especially after allowing Knowshon Moreno to test the open market.

     

    Biggest Remaining Need: Guard

    The Broncos window with Manning is closing, so it makes sense for the team to do everything it can to protect their signal-caller as long as he is able to play. This makes it a priority to find a replacement for departed left guard Zane Beadles.

    Finding a replacement might have been a priority even if Beadles had stuck around. He was credited with allowing an alarming 32 quarterback hurries in 2013 by Pro Football Focus, and he ranked just 51st overall among all offensive guards.

Kansas City Chiefs

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    Ed Zurga/Associated Press

    Key Offseason Needs: G, LB, S, WR

     

    Analysis

    Like the Bengals, the Kansas City Chiefs appear to be a playoff team that got weaker in free agency this year.

    While the Chiefs managed to retain safety Husain Abdullah and linebacker Frank Zombo, they allowed a number of key pieces to walk in free agency.

    Among them were starting left tackle Branden Albert and guards Jon Asamoah and Geoff Schwartz. Albert will likely be replaced by 2013 first-round pick Eric Fisher, but the loss of two quality guards will hurt.

    The Chiefs could also use some help at the wideout position. Of the team's top three leading receivers from last season, one was a running back (Jamaal Charles) and another left in free agency (Dexter McCluster).

     

    Biggest Remaining Need: Guard

    The Chiefs have to find a way to replace two above-average guards this offseason, which may be a difficult task. According to Pro Football Focus, both Asamoah and Schwartz were rated as top-20 guards. Kansas City's next highest-rated guard was Jeff Allen, who was rated 62nd overall at the position.

Oakland Raiders

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    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    Key Offseason Needs: DE, CB, QB, WR

     

    Analysis

    The Oakland Raiders managed to shore up a few positions early on in free agency, which is a good thing for the one AFC West team that missed the playoffs last season.

    Oakland improved its defensive front with the additions of defensive end Justin Tuck and linebacker LaMarr Woodley. Adding former San Francisco 49ers cornerback Tarell Brown will also boost the secondary.

    While retaining running back Darren McFadden should help the Raiders offense continue to grow (assuming he can stay healthy), perhaps the best move on that side of the ball is the addition of former Green Bay Packers wideout James Jones. This, of course, leaves just one major hole on offense.

     

    Biggest Remaining Need: Quarterback

    Ohio State product Terrelle Pryor flashed some potential last season, as did undrafted signal-caller Matt McGloin. However, neither seems to be a surefire franchise quarterback. Until Oakland gets one, it will have a difficult time competing with the rest of the division. 

San Diego Chargers

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    Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

    Key Offseason Needs: CB, NT, WR, LB

     

    Analysis

    The San Diego Chargers accomplished one of their bigger free-agent goals by finding a way to retain linebacker Donald Butler.

    Feeling blessed! Y'all heard it here first! Deal is done!! SD I aint going no where!! Too excited!!

    — Donald Butler (@DAButler56) February 28, 2014

    Aside from that move, however, they have not done a lot to address their needs, choosing instead to sign former Colts running back Donald Brown.

    San Diego still has needs along the defensive line and at cornerback. It also needs to bring in a talented veteran receiver or promising rookie to pair with 2013 rookie standout Keenan Allen.

     

    Biggest Remaining Need: Cornerback

    San Diego decided to bring back free-agent cornerback Richard Marshall, which keeps a body at the position but leaves room for improvement. He ranked just 101st overall among cornerbacks last season, according to Pro Football Focus, and fellow corner Shareece Wright ranked 102nd.

    The Chargers have to bring in more talent to the defensive backfield, or their 29th-ranked pass defense (258.7 yards per game allowed) will have a difficult time improving. 

Dallas Cowboys

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    LM Otero/Associated Press

    Key Offseason Needs: WR, DT, DE, S

     

    Analysis

    The Dallas Cowboys took a hit on the defensive side of the football this offseason, losing defensive lineman Jason Hatcher and cutting ties with longtime defensive end DeMarcus Ware. This is not good news for a defense that ranked dead last in yards allowed a season ago (415.3 yards per game allowed, to be exact).

    The addition of defensive lineman Henry Melton (15.5 career sacks) may help offset the loss of Hatcher and Ware, but a lot will depend on his health. There is still work to be done along the defensive front.

    Cowboys examined DT Henry Melton's surgically-repaired left ACL and believe he will be ready for training camp as agent Jordan Woy has said.

    — Ed Werder (@Edwerderespn) March 19, 2014

    The Cowboys could also use some more receiving help, following the release of Miles Austin.

     

    Biggest Remaining Need: Safety

    Safety has been a position of need for some time and remains so now. Strong safety Jeff Heath, who appeared in all 16 contests last season with nine starts, was ranked just 62nd among safeties by Pro Football Focus.

New York Giants

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    Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

    Key Offseason Needs: DT, DE, G, WR

     

    Analysis

    The New York Giants lost a pair of important defensive pieces in free agency, parting ways with defensive tackle Linval Joseph and defensive end Justin Tuck. The team also watched wide receiver Hakeem Nicks sign with the Colts.

    From @RapSheet, The #Colts have signed WR Hakeem Nicks to a one-year deal, per source.

    — Michael Fabiano (@Michael_Fabiano) March 14, 2014

    While these losses will hurt, the Giants have done a good job of addressing other needs. New York bolstered its secondary by adding cornerbacks Walter Thurmond and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and brought back former Giants wideout Mario Manningham.

    The Giants also added veteran guard Geoff Schwartz, who will likely take over for recently retired David Diehl.

     

    Biggest Remaining Need: Defensive End

    Tuck was responsible for 11 of the team's 34 sacks last season, and no other player amassed more than six. Finding a way to replicate (or improve upon) his production as an edge-rusher will be a tall but necessary order. 

Philadelphia Eagles

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    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Key Offseason Needs: CB, S, LB, DE

     

    Analysis

    The Philadelphia Eagles had one of the league's most explosive offenses in 2013 (417.2 yards per game) but also the single-worst pass defense (289.8 yards per game allowed)

    Therefore, it isn't too surprising that the team added free agents like safety Malcolm Jenkins and cornerback Nolan Carroll. It also made some sense to bring back safety Nate Allen, even though he ranked just 49th overall among safeties, according to Pro Football Focus.

    What is surprising is that the Eagles didn't do more to bolster their defense, choosing instead to swing a deal for New Orleans Saints running back Darren Sproles.

     

    Biggest Remaining Need: Cornerback

    Even with a few new faces in the secondary, the fact remains that the Philadelphia defense was awful in 2013, especially against the pass. Adding a legitimately great cover corner is a must, especially if the Eagles have any hope of competing against the rest of the conference in January. 

Washington Redskins

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    Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

    Key Offseason Needs: OT, S, LB, WR

     

    Analysis

    The Washington Redskins fielded a pretty awful defense in 2013 (ranked 31st in scoring, allowing 20.9 points per game), so it makes sense that the team has made a few moves to upgrade the unit.

    Washington's biggest free-agent signing has come in the form of former Cowboys defensive lineman Jason Hatcher, who should help solidify the defensive front. The team also added defensive end Clifton Geathers, linebacker Akeem Jordan and cornerback Tracy Porter. All are solid, if unspectacular, moves for the defensively challenged Redskins.

    Look for Washington to add to its relatively lackluster receiving corps early in the draft.

     

    Biggest Remaining Need: Safety

    Though the Redskins did find a way to add a little talent to the defensive side of the football, Washington has major issues in its secondary. No safety on the current roster ranked higher than 79th at the position last season, according to Pro Football Focus

Chicago Bears

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Key Offseason Needs: S, TE, DT, DE

     

    Analysis

    The Chicago Bears have been relatively quiet in free agency, with their lone big addition being that of former Raiders defensive end Lamarr Houston.

    Adding him makes a ton of sense following the release of Julius Peppers, although bringing in a few more impact players on that side of the ball might not have been a bad idea. Chicago ranked dead last against the run in 2013 (161.4 yards per game allowed), which is surprising for any team fielding a 4-3 front. 

    Losing quarterback Josh McCown in free agency was probably inevitable after his performance last season (1,829 passing yards, 13 touchdowns and just a single pick), but his veteran leadership will likely be missed.

     

    Biggest Remaining Need: Safety

    While Chicago was most notorious for giving up rushing yards a season ago, the team has an immense need at the safety position. The Bears' top-rated safety last season was Chris Conte, who ranked 82nd among safeties by Pro Football Focus. Major Wright ranked 86th overall. 

Detroit Lions

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    Leon Halip/Getty Images

    Key Offseason Needs: WR, S, CB, OT

     

    Analysis

    The Detroit Lions made perhaps one of the most underrated moves of free agency when they added former Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Golden Tate to the roster.

    While he isn't the biggest receiver out there (5'10", 202 pounds), he should be a nifty complement to star wideout Calvin Johnson and take advantage of the coverage that Johnson regularly draws.

    On the downside, Detroit lost a couple of productive defenders. Defensive end Willie Young left in free agency, and the Lions released safety Louis Delmas in order to make some salary-cap room. 

     

    Biggest Remaining Need: Safety

    With Delmas out, the Lions have a pressing need at the safety position. Actually, any secondary help would likely be welcomed, as the team surrendered an average of 246.9 yards per game last season (23rd in the NFL) through the air. Delmas was ranked 26th overall among safeties by Pro Football Focus

Green Bay Packers

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Key Offseason Needs: TE, CB, C, DE

     

    Analysis

    The Green Bay Packers placed a large offseason focus on retaining their own key defensive free agents. They wound up bringing back cornerback Sam Shields, defensive lineman B.J. Raji and linebacker/defensive end Mike Neal.

    They also added defensive end Julius Peppers. Keeping him beyond 2014 may be difficult, but he should be able to add some impact this season.

    #Packers DE Julius Peppers counts $3.5 million against the cap in '14. Number jumps to $12 million in '15, source said.

    — Tom Silverstein (@TomSilverstein) March 17, 2014

    However, they allowed a few key offensive players, like tight end Jermichael Finley and wideout James Jones, to test the free-agent market.

    They could use some help along the offensive line, particularly at center. The team will also need to find a way to offset the losses of Finley and Jones, although the presence of quarterback Aaron Rodgers might make it feel like Green Bay's offensive pieces are interchangeable. 

     

    Biggest Remaining Need: Tight End

    Despite losing Jones to the Raiders, the Packers are still fairly well-stocked at wide receiver. The bigger issue will likely be finding a tight end who can match Finley's underrated production. Despite only appearing in six games last season, he managed to amass 300 yards and three scores.

Minnesota Vikings

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    Tom Lynn/Getty Images

    Key Offseason Needs: CB, QB, DT, G

     

    Analysis

    The Minnesota Vikings have managed to fill a few defensive holes this offseason, although it may be difficult to watch Jared Allen playing for another team after watching him rack up 85.5 sacks over the past six seasons.

    Still, Minnesota did a respectable job of adding guys like defensive tackle Linval Joseph and cornerback Captain Munnerlyn. Bringing back defensive end Everson Griffen was also a solid (and expected) move.

    The Vikings could probably use a little depth along the offensive line, and any kind of defensive help would likely be welcomed. Minnesota surrendered an NFL-worst 30 points per game last season.

     

    Biggest Remaining Need: Quarterback

    Minnesota re-signed journeyman quarterback Matt Cassel, which means that new head coach Mike Zimmer at least has a placeholder at the position. However, the Vikings should add depth under center, especially if they do not view Cassel as a long-term solution. 

Atlanta Falcons

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Key Offseason Needs: OT, TE, DT, DE

     

    Analysis

    The Atlanta Falcons have done a commendable job of strengthening their offensive line this offseason, adding guard Jon Asamoah and bringing back guard/center Joe Hawley for another run. However, adding an elite tackle would certainly help.

    An improved line and healthier weapons (wideout Julio Jones and running back Steven Jackson both missed time due to injury last season) should make life easier on quarterback Matt Ryan. Therefore, it makes sense that Atlanta has focused on solidifying its defensive front.

    The Falcons have added defensive tackle Paul Soliai (ranked 20th among defensive tackles by Pro Football Focus) and run-stopping defensive end Tyson Jackson.

     

    Biggest Remaining Need: Tight End

    Watching tight end Tony Gonzalez ride off into retirement hurts the Falcons from both leadership and production standpoints. 

Carolina Panthers

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Key Offseason Needs: OT, CB, S, WR

     

    Analysis

    It has been a surprising (and to be honest, somewhat puzzling) offseason for the Carolina Panthers, who have made moves to strengthen the back end of their defense but have significantly weakened their offense.

    The Panthers have added defensive backs Roman Harper and James Dockery but have sat back and watched left tackle Jordan Gross retire and wide receivers Brandon LaFell and Ted Ginn walk in free agency. They also cut ties with franchise legend Steve Smith.

    This leaves Carolina extremely questionable, especially as quarterback Cam Newton recovers from ankle surgery

     

    Biggest Remaining Need: Wide Receiver

    Yes, I know the Panthers recently signed Jerricho Cotchery, but he is more of a complementary receiver than a playmaker at this point in his career. Allowing Ginn and LaFell to leave was probably a mistake. Cutting ties with Smith definitely was.

    As it stands now, the Panthers: Franchise QB out til camp, no 1, 2 or 3 receiver, no left tackle, no starting corner.

    — Jonathan Jones (@jjones9) March 18, 2014

New Orleans Saints

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    Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

    Key Offseason Needs: OT, S, C, CB

     

    Analysis

    Adding former Bills safety Jairus Byrd was an aggressive move that should help solidify the back end of the New Orleans Saints defense. Doing it at a price tag of $56 million may have been a little overaggressive.

    Bringing back offensive tackle Zach Strief will help the offensive line maintain continuity, and allowing right tackle Charles Brown to leave in free agency may have been equally wise. He was credited with allowing seven sacks and 33 quarterback hurries by Pro Football Focus and was ranked 66th among all tackles.

    Trading away running back Darren Sproles and releasing wideout Lance Moore may have a negative impact on the offense, but New Orleans can address both positions in the draft.

     

    Biggest Remaining Need: Center

    The Saints' need at center hinges on what happens with free agent Brian de la Puente. If New Orleans can bring him back, it can move onto other needs. De la Puente visited with the Redskins on Wednesday, according to The Washington Post.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    Stacy Revere/Getty Images

    Key Offseason Needs: QB, CB, DE, OT

     

    Analysis

    Adding former Titans cornerback Alterraun Verner in free agency allowed the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to part ways with Darrell Revis without doing much damage to the integrity of the defense. While Verner is not on the same level as Revis (Pro Football Focus ranked him 12th among cornerbacks; Revis was first), he appears to be a solid fit for head coach Lovie Smith's system.

    Tampa also filled its need for a capable edge-rusher by adding former Bengals defensive end Michael Johnson.

    Free-agent quarterback Josh McCown appears to be the team's new starter, so protecting him needs to be a major priority. 

     

    Biggest Remaining Need: Offensive Tackle

    The Buccaneers allowed starting left tackle Donald Penn to walk in free agency, which may have been a wise decision considering he ranked 30th among all offensive tackles, according to Pro Football Focus. There is definitely room for improvement, though at this point it will probably have to come through the draft. 

Arizona Cardinals

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    Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

    Key Offseason Needs: CB, OT, S, QB

     

    Analysis

    The Arizona Cardinals have made moves to address most of their key needs this offseason, though none appears bigger than the addition of former Raiders offensive tackle Jared Veldheer.

    He ranked 47th in pass protection among offensive tackles last season, according to 
    Pro Football Focus. He replaces Bradley Sowell, who ranked 75th among offensive tackles in the same category. 

    Arizona also added wide receiver Ted Ginn and defensive end Matt Shaughnessy. According to the team's official website, the Cardinals also reached a one-year deal with cornerback Antonio Cromartie. 

     

    Biggest Remaining Need: Quarterback

    Fortunately, the Cardinals do not need to make an immediate move at the quarterback position. Carson Palmer passed for more than 4,200 yards last season with 24 touchdowns, and he appears to be good enough to hold down the job for the near future. However, he is 34 years old, and the time to start thinking about the future is now. 

San Francisco 49ers

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    Tom Pennington/Getty Images

    Key Offseason Needs: WR, CB, K, S

     

    Analysis

    The San Francisco 49ers have already made two wise decisions this offseason that should pay major dividends once the regular season kicks off.

    Bringing back kicker Phil Dawson and wide receiver Anquan Boldin should help ensure the offense can move the football and score points (25.4 points per game last season). Having a healthy Michael Crabtree in 2014 should help things on the offensive side of the football, but adding another serviceable wideout wouldn't hurt. 

    David Kilgore, who signed a three-year extension, will probably have the inside track at the starting center job next season. Adding former Colts safety Antoine Bethea to replace departed free agent Donte Whitner was a very solid move that should keep a physical presence in the defensive backfield.

     

    Biggest Remaining Need: Cornerback

    Losing starting cornerback Tarell Brown to the Raiders may have a bigger impact on the 49ers defense than some might think. He ranked 32nd overall among all cornerbacks last season, according to Pro Football Focus. Finding an adequate replacement might not be easy, but it will be necessary if San Francisco hopes to field an equally dominant defense in 2014. 

Seattle Seahawks

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    Paul Sancya/Associated Press

    Key Offseason Needs: DT, WR, TE, DE

     

    Analysis

    The Seattle Seahawks accomplished a big offseason goal by retaining defensive end Michael Bennett with a four-year, $28.5 million deal

    Unfortunately, like many defending Super Bowl champions, the Seahawks could not keep everybody.

    Key free-agent losses include wide receiver Golden Tate and defensive tackle Clinton McDonald. The team also parted ways with wideout Sidney Rice and defensive tackle Red Bryant prior to the start of free agency.

     

    Biggest Remaining Need: Wide Receiver

    The Seahawks should be able to find a quality receiver early in May's draft, but a miss at the position could cause problems to the offense. Tate was the team's leading receiver during the regular season with 64 receptions, 898 yards and five touchdowns. 

    Of course, having a 100 percent healthy Percy Harvin should also provide a boost next season. 

St. Louis Rams

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    L.G. Patterson/Associated Press

    Key Offseason Needs: OT, G, S, WR

     

    Analysis

    The St. Louis Rams are probably a lot closer to contending than their 7-9 record in 2013 would indicate, so long as Sam Bradford can stay healthy and solidify the quarterback position.

    St. Louis could use a big outside receiver to complement rookie standout Tavon Austin, who appears best suited for the slot. The team could also use help along the offensive line, although bringing back versatile lineman Rodger Saffold helps relieve some of the pressure there. 

    Fortunately, the Rams will likely have their choice of wideouts and linemen with the No. 2 overall pick in May's draft. St. Louis also holds the 13th overall selection, which means the team should be able to fill more than one need with starting-caliber rookie talent.

     

    Biggest Remaining Need: Safety

    Safeties Rodney McLeod and T.J. McDonald ranked just 76th and 77th overall, respectively, among safeties in 2013, according to Pro Football Focus. Adding a proven veteran or promising rookie to the safety position should help the Rams improve their 19th-ranked pass defense (242.1 yards allowed last season) and bring a bit more balance to the defensive side of the football. 

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