Every NFL Team's New Year's Resolution for 2015

Alessandro Miglio@@AlexMiglioFeatured ColumnistJanuary 1, 2015

Every NFL Team's New Year's Resolution for 2015

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    We've rung in the new year. Hopefully, you found some merriment, unlike some NFL teams heading into 2015.

    The regular season is over, though plenty of teams are trying to take care of business in the playoffs. Most have a long way to go before even thinking about a Super Bowl, however.

    With the new year comes resolutions. What one thing should each NFL team resolve to do, whether in the short term or looking ahead? Let's have a little fun with this one, shall we?

Arizona Cardinals

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    Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

    Buy up all the rabbit's feet

    Carson Palmer had settled into his role as the starter in Arizona. The team was playing well around him, and the Cardinals signed him to a three-year, $50 million extension to play out his career in the desert. Unfortunately for him and Cardinals fans, disaster struck before the ink dried on the contract.

    In one small stroke of awful luck, Palmer tore up his surgically repaired knee almost immediately following the extension—an innocuous step in his matchup against the St. Louis Rams—torpedoing Arizona's chances to win the NFC West and likely make a deep playoff run in the process.

    At 35 years of age, Palmer might be in for a tough comeback this time around. Hopefully, modern medicine can get him upright and stable for the rest of his career, but there isn't much time to lose. Tom Brady and Peyton Manning are proving quarterbacks can play well late into their 30s, but Palmer isn't quite that caliber.

    The Cardinals, meanwhile, find themselves probably starting Ryan Lindley at quarterback to open the playoffs despite drafting Logan Thomas in the fourth round last season. 

    Hopefully, good fortune is in store for Palmer in recovery, because the Cardinals don't seem to have much of an answer at quarterback otherwise. That defense has a lot riding on its collective shoulders right now.

Atlanta Falcons

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    Find the new Jim Harbaugh 

    What happened to the Atlanta Falcons?

    Two years ago, they were on the brink of a Super Bowl appearance. Then the wheels fell off despite a solid core of players. It's no wonder head coach Mike Smith was canned on Black Monday.

    Of course, general manager Thomas Dimitroff went with him because the roster was flawed around those core players, but the Falcons are in a position for a quick turnaround. For that to happen, they will need to find the next Jim Harbaugh.

    They need a coach who can come in and mold a team into an instant winner. That's what Harbaugh did in San Francisco, taking a roster Mike Singletary couldn't coach up and turning it into a perennial powerhouse. 

    It won't be easy, of course—the coaching carousel turns for a reason—but the Falcons have an opportunity to retake the NFC South and become a league power if they make the right moves this offseason.

    Having a franchise quarterback—as flawed as he may be these days—in Matt Ryan and an elite receiver in Julio Jones is a great start. Shoring up the trenches will go a long way toward helping the new coach thrive.

Baltimore Ravens

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    Nick Wass/Associated Press

    Flip Joe Flacco's "on" switch

    The Baltimore Ravens head into the new year in a familiar position—attempting another postseason run.

    After all, they have only missed the playoffs once since quarterback Joe Flacco came into the league. They have come close to a Super Bowl on a couple of occasions, but they had their greatest success when Flacco caught fire.

    That was two years ago. Baltimore needs it to happen again.

    Flacco threw for 1,140 yards and 11 touchdowns through four postseason games two years ago, but his most impressive feat was avoiding interceptions—he threw zero picks in that span. It was a performance for the ages, and the Ravens are going to need that sort of run if they are going to make it past the likes of the Denver Broncos and New England Patriots.

Buffalo Bills

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    Send a message back in time

    The Buffalo Bills made a bold move to grab the top-rated receiver in the 2014 NFL draft, giving up a couple of big picks to move up and get Sammy Watkins.

    It was a mistake.

    Granted, who could have known that the rookie receiver class was this excellent—by many accounts it was one of the best ever, but you never know in the NFL draft—but that move seems far worse in hindsight now.

    It's too bad time travel doesn't exist—as far as we know—otherwise Buffalo might pay to send a message back in time to stop the madness. Buffalo could have kept the draft picks and selected Odell Beckham Jr. at No. 9, for example. 

    Or the Bills could have traded down and taken quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. Now they are stuck with EJ Manuel after Kyle Orton retired. This team has little hope of improving the position anytime in the near future.

    The situation is so bad that it may have caused head coach Doug Marrone to shockingly quit his job, per Adam Schefter and co. at ESPN.com.

    Looking toward the future, the Bills need to continue building that defense into an elite unit. It's the only way they will be able to overcome their quarterback issues in the near future.

Carolina Panthers

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    Spend some money

    The Carolina Panthers were hamstrung by a lack of money last year, unable to sign anyone of consequence or even retain some of their players. It almost resulted in a near-lost season, as they only got into the playoffs as a result of playing in a terrible division. 

    Despite a contract that would cost them more in dead money to cut DeAngelo Williams straight up than to keep him, their cap situation is much improved for 2015. Now they need to use it well.

    Carolina needs help in several areas, particularly at receiver, cornerback and along the offensive line. Head coach Ron Rivera has made do with a patchwork roster, and fortune favored the reigning Coach of the Year this season as the Panthers won the NFC South at 7-8-1.

    If the Panthers can shore up the offensive line and find quarterback Cam Newton another quality receiver or two this offseason, that offense is going to be great in 2015. 

Chicago Bears

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    Get Jay Cutler to quit smoking

    The Chicago Bears are going nowhere fast.

    They just fired head coach Marc Trestman and general manager Phil Emery, capping off another disappointing season in the Windy City. The face of letdown came in the form of quarterback Jay Cutler, who squandered another season.

    He also wasted owner Virginia Halas McCaskey's money, at least with how poorly he has played at times. His sub-par play might not fly much longer with McCaskey, who is in no mood to mess around these days, according to her son, George, per Danny Ecker of Crain's Chicago Business: 

    She's pissed off. I can't think of a 91-year-old woman that that description would apply to, but in this case I can't think of a more accurate description.

    She's been on this earth for eight of the Bears' nine championships, and she wants more. She's fed up with mediocrity. She feels that she and Bears fans everywhere deserve better.

    Unfortunately, the Bears are stuck with Cutler unless they find a sucker in a trade. Perhaps the turnover will light a fire under the embattled quarterback.

Cincinnati Bengals

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    Hire a hypnotherapist 

    The Cincinnati Bengals are in the playoffs for the fourth consecutive season. Congratulations. Perhaps they will win a game this time.

    Cincinnati's playoff failures in recent years are well-documented. The culprit—or perhaps the scapegoat—has been quarterback Andy Dalton, who has infamously flopped in the first round of the postseason for three consecutive seasons.

    Dalton has thrown for just 718 yards and one touchdown through three Wild Card Games, but his six interceptions have been more problematic. 

    Does he wilt under pressure? Most of his outings on national television have gone awry, after all. Perhaps some hypnotherapy is in order.

Cleveland Browns

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    Bob Leverone/Associated Press

    Get Johnny Manziel a life coach

    It's high time Johnny Manziel got serious about football, at least if he wants to get anywhere in the NFL.

    At least he admitted as much recently, as tweeted by Browns beat writer Mary Kay Cabot. Admitting you have a problem is the first step toward recovery, after all.

    Of course, not a week after saying so, Manziel threw a party that got him fined and receiver Josh Gordon suspended. It was the final nail in the coffin of a once-promising season, and Manziel's own future with the team is already in doubt.

    Owner Jimmy Haslam expressed his disappointment in those events, per Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal:

    I think this is the ultimate team game and I think a player who can't show up for meetings, can't make practice, can't make weight lifting, disrespects himself. But I think more importantly, and I think this is what these young guys miss -- they disrespect the team, the coaches, the staff, the fans. There's a lot of people in our organization whose livelihood depends on how well we do, and we're not going to tolerate people who are irresponsible no matter what round they're drafted in.

    So these young guys, we're going to give them a chance. They're young kids. We're going to work with them. Hopefully they'll grow up, but if they can't grow up and they can't be responsible to their teammates and the coaches and our great fans, then they won't be with the Cleveland Browns.

    Johnny Football keeps making bad decisions, and it needs to stop. 

Dallas Cowboys

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    Don't free the genie

    The Dallas Cowboys are on a magical run this season, one that was completely unforeseen by anyone except owner Jerry Jones. Did he find the genie's lamp?

    If so, he needs to refrain from using that third wish to free the genie.

    The Cowboys won the NFC East and are poised for a home game against the Detroit Lions in the Wild Card Round after going 12-4 on the year. Even more impressive is the fact they went 8-0 on the road this season.

    Whatever sparked the positive change needs to keep happening in Dallas. The Cowboys were downright dominant in December, reversing a trend widely mocked over the years.

Denver Broncos

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    Find the fountain of youth

    The championship window will remain open for the Denver Broncos as long as Peyton Manning is healthy and resisting Father Time. Unfortunately, the latter might be problematic sooner than later.

    Manning already seems like he might be having trouble at 38 years of age.

    The Broncos seem to be trying to mitigate the effects of age by giving Manning a lighter workload during games, though he probably has the most say in that regard. He had a couple of consecutive games this season where he passed the ball just 20 times, and it seemed like he was having some arm strength issues at one point.

    This is Peyton, of course—he has thrived even when his arm has turned into a noodle. Father Time eventually overtakes us all, however.

    Without Manning, the Broncos will turn into pumpkins. Brock Osweiler isn't Aaron Rodgers sitting behind a legend. The Broncos seem to be all in to win now, but that cliff could be around the corner.

Detroit Lions

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    Find a nice defensive tackle

    Maybe the mean streak helps him.

    Ndamukong Suh is one of the most dominant defensive linemen in the league, after all. His antics on the field may have driven him out of Detroit once and for all once the season is over. He narrowly escaped a suspension after stepping on Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers in Week 17.

    Nick Fairley hasn't been much better at times, though his issues have been off the field. He was notably miffed when the Lions declined his fifth-year option, and he played like it during the first half of the season before injury struck.

    Both Fairley and Suh will be free agents this coming offseason, and it remains to be seen if Detroit will have either of them back. Suh will be particularly expensive, and the Lions already have a ton of money committed to quarterback Matthew Stafford and wide receiver Calvin Johnson.

    The Lions have a great defensive line, one that has buoyed the defense and the entire team at times this season. That might go away next year if they cannot—or choose not to—retain their fiery defensive tackles.

Green Bay Packers

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    Get Aaron Rodgers a senzu bean

    The Green Bay Packers will go as far as Aaron Rodgers can take them this postseason. Unfortunately, he might not be able to carry them on a bum leg.

    The MVP candidate suffered a calf injury last week in a pivotal game against the Detroit Lions for the NFC North crown. The injury seemed to revitalize the Lions, as they quickly gained on Matt Flynn and the Packers to tie the game at 14 apiece.

    Rodgers came back after halftime, however, and did his best Willis Reed impression in victory. Now comes the hard part—doing it in the playoffs.

    Hopefully, he will be healthy enough to go after a bye week, but Green Bay's super Saiyan 12 has had nagging leg injuries this season. Whoever the Packers face will have no problem going after Rodgers to test his hamstring or calf.

    Rodgers needs to get healthy quickly and stay there if the Packers are going to go far into the postseason.

Houston Texans

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    Get J.J. Watt that MVP

    J.J. Watt is a deserving MVP candidate. He may well win the award this season despite Aaron Rodgers' brilliance and the fact that Houston didn't make the playoffs.

    If he doesn't, however, there is one way the Texans can get him over the hump—win more games.

    Watt's on-field impact will never match an elite quarterback's, but he would certainly have a better shot at the award if the Texans were a playoff team. In order for that to happen, they need a bona fide quarterback.

    Hopefully, Ryan Mallett will be that guy when he gets healthy—the Texans are in no-man's land if he isn't. Quality quarterbacks rarely hit free agency, and the draft is a crapshoot with few viable prospects this year. 

    Failing that, turning the defense into an elite unit around Watt will be a huge boon, particularly because he is so valuable to that unit. 

Indianapolis Colts

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Get Andrew Luck that "elite" merit badge

    There has been a certain backlash against quarterback Andrew Luck since he came into the league.

    After all, as good as he has been, Luck has certainly not been without faults. He has completed just 58.6 percent of his passes and thrown 43 interceptions since coming into the league, for example.

    While some certainly see Luck as a superstar, others think he has a long way to go before getting there. The Colts could do a lot for their quarterback's young legacy by winning in the playoffs.

    Yes, Luck won an epic come-from-behind victory a year ago against the Kansas City Chiefs, but the Colts sputtered the following game. For luck to enter the "elite" conversation, he will have to lead the team on a long playoff run, and he won't be able to do it alone.

    The Colts will need to put together complete performances over the next few weeks to get past Cincinnati, Denver and likely New England. Should that come to pass, the last vestiges of the no joy Luck club will retreat.

Jacksonville Jaguars

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    Patric Schneider/Associated Press

    Open the cellar door

    The Jacksonville Jaguars have managed to stay out of last place in the AFC South each of the past two seasons, but having the No. 3 pick in consecutive years isn't exactly being out of the cellar.

    It's time to put on the sunscreen and crack that cellar door.

    While the past several years haven't been kind to the Jaguars, the team seems to be headed in the right direction. It sported an underrated defense and a rookie quarterback who was thrown into the fire a bit early this season.

    Another solid offseason should see the Jaguars push higher, perhaps even climbing toward .500. Shoring up the offensive line and finding a durable, quality running back will go a long way toward bringing the Jaguars back to national relevance.

Kansas City Chiefs

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    Throw a touchdown to a receiver

    It's pretty amazing that the Kansas City Chiefs went an entire season without throwing a single touchdown pass to a wide receiver. 

    Granted, the corps wasn't exactly Green Bay's or even Tampa Bay's, but not even one? 

    The Chiefs can fix that by upgrading at the position. Dwayne Bowe is unlikely going anywhere given his contract, but a draft pick and a free-agent pickup or two could go a long way to shoring up the unit.

    The 2015 draft class might not hold a candle to last season's special bunch, but a wise pick could make all the difference in the world.

    Maybe a little emphasis in training camp will help too.

Miami Dolphins

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    Make it Glengarry Stephen Ross

    Always. Be. Closing.

    Those were the immortal words Alec Baldwin spoke as Blake in the film Glengarry Glen Ross as a motivational ploy to sell cars. It's something the Miami Dolphins could have used all season long.

    Head coach Joe Philbin is somehow still around despite another mediocre season that saw the Dolphins ill-prepared at times and overwhelmed at others. Third place didn't mean "you're fired."

    There were certainly some bright spots, but they were overshadowed by the team's inability to close games out—Miami had the Green Bay Packers, Denver Broncos and Detroit Lions on the ropes late in games this season only to see the defense fold.

    If the Dolphins are going to progress, they are going to need Philbin to turn it up a notch or 10, something he may be incapable of doing. Much of this year's team should remain intact for next season given the cap situation, so coaching will be the key to success or failure.

    If Philbin wants to work in Miami, the team has to close.

Minnesota Vikings

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    Cut ties with Adrian Peterson

    What will be the use of keeping Adrian Peterson next season?

    Sure, he was the NFL's MVP just a couple of years ago, and a player of his caliber and physical superiority might age slowly. But Peterson will be 30 in March, not exactly in his prime—and not to mention his extra baggage.

    For his part, head coach Mike Zimmer would like to see Peterson back, per Ben Goessling of ESPN.com: 

    Adrian was always great with me. I think he's a good person. I think obviously he's a great running back, and if it works out that way and things work out and he gets his life in order -- that's the most important thing, he gets his life in order, he gets the opportunity to come back -- then I will be in his corner whatever the decision is made.

    I think he would add value to any team, to be honest with you. I think the kid's a heck of a football player.

    It would be a tough choice to part ways from a team standpoint, to be sure—Minnesota doesn't exactly have a quality replacement right now. But it would free up a ton of cap space—$7.27 million if he is cut without using June 1 rules, when including dead money—and the specter of his legal woes would go with him. 

    He is intriguing enough to dangle in the trade winds, at least in terms of what he brings to the table on the field if he can avoid a swift decline.

    The Vikings aren't in dire straits when it comes to cap space, but that is a big chunk of change and peace of mind to go along with it.

New England Patriots

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    Keep Darrelle Revis at all costs

    The New England Patriots are poised to make another run at a championship this year, and this time they have the defense to match the offense.

    That's thanks, in large part, to cornerback Darrelle Revis, who has lived up to the billing as arguably the best cornerback in the NFL.

    Head coach Bill Belichick took a calculated risk by bringing in the stud cornerback on a one-year, $12 million deal last offseason. He was great in Tampa Bay, but he wasn't quite his dominant self all season long. That price tag was far higher than any other cornerback was getting, too.

    Revis has paid off nicely, and the Patriots defense has been far better off with him in that secondary. That's why the Patriots need to pony up and sign him to a long-term deal sooner than later.

    Apparently, the Patriots were looking to extend his contract during training camp, but nothing materialized. After the season he had, you can bet something will begin to materialize as soon as New England's season is over.

New Orleans Saints

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    Get out of cap hell

    The New Orleans Saints had an incredibly disappointing 2014 season. It might be getting worse if they can't fix their cap issues.

    New Orleans was one of the teams in a spot of trouble last year, but creative contract structures allowed it to sign safety Jairus Byrd to a massive contract while retaining right tackle Zach Strief and tight end Jimmy Graham.

    The mortgage has come due, however, and the Saints find themselves $22.4 million in the hole for 2015 as things stand today. 

    Some contract restructuring is in order, but the Saints might be hard-pressed to fill any holes in free agency with a limited budget.

New York Giants

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    Convince Tom Coughlin to retire

    The New York Giants have already decided to bring Tom Coughlin back for one last season, but perhaps they should reconsider.

    The 68-year-old is easily the oldest head coach in the league, so there is an easy angle here—show him the bliss that retirement could be. Coughlin has had his day in the sun twice now, but the Giants are no closer to a championship with him at the helm.

    Since New York beat New England for a second time in Super Bowl XLVI, the Giants are 22-26 with a progressively worse record despite playing in an increasingly soft division.

    Receiver Odell Beckham Jr.—a shoo-in for the Rookie of the Year honors this season—has been a great story for the Giants, but his success has masked the mediocrity in New York. Some young blood at head coach might do the team good.

New York Jets

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    Blow it all up

    The Jets have already gotten started on this by firing head coach Rex Ryan and general manager John Idzik, but it's time to blow it all up in New York.

    Whoever is brought in to manage affairs is surely going to want to revamp the team, save for a few core players, namely along that defensive line. Guys like receiver Percy Harvin and quarterback Geno Smith are part of a rebel alliance and traitors. Take them away!

    Of course, the struggle of rebuilding may not sit well with fans, but the Jets have a long and storied history of disappointment. Hopefully, they will find the right staff for the job this time around, but it could take some time before the roster is in a better place.

Oakland Raiders

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    Perhaps this should have been a sign.
    Perhaps this should have been a sign.Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

    Once more, with feeling

    The Oakland Raiders entered the 2014 offseason with the most cap space in the league. General manager Reggie McKenzie took that and bought a bunch of used action figures.

    That's what it seemed like anyway, as the Raiders chose quantity over quality. He filled a bunch of holes, to be sure, but it amounted to one less win and another lost season.

    Granted, part of the problem was keeping Dennis Allen around for the start of the season—he is now gone—but the Raiders will really need to turn things around quickly for McKenzie to keep his job.

    The good news is he once again will have the most cap space heading into the upcoming offseason. Perhaps he will actually make a splash.

    How excited would Raiders fans be if McKenzie was somehow able to land defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh and pass-rushing phenom Justin Houston in one offseason?

Philadelphia Eagles

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    Find the philosopher's stone

    The Philadelphia Eagles are in a pickle.

    On one hand, head coach Chip Kelly had his quarterback-deficient and defensively compromised squad leading the NFC East for most of the season before conceding to the Dallas Cowboys in the final weeks. On the other hand, his team has seemed to reach its ceiling in his second year at the helm.

    The good news is that the rest of the roster is fixable, assuming the Eagles can draft well and be smart in free agency. The bad news is the quarterback conundrum isn't going away any time soon.

    Nick Foles figures to regain his starter status now that he is healthy, but is he the quarterback of the future? His fantastic 2013 campaign seems like ages ago, and it was exposed as fraudulent with the way he was playing before getting hurt this past season.

    Without a top pick in the draft, there isn't much Philadelphia can do to improve at quarterback next season.

    The Eagles will need to turn Foles into gold or somehow convince Tampa Bay to take all their draft picks for the rights to draft Kelly's old recruit, Marcus Mariota, if they are going to be truly successful on offense next season. 

Pittsburgh Steelers

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    Find a ritual healer

    Ideally, the Pittsburgh Steelers would like to find a faith healer to work on running back Le'Veon Bell's knee before they meet the Baltimore Ravens in the Wild Card Round.

    The Steelers weren't supposed to win the NFC North this season. There were too many holes on the team—particularly on defense—and the division was stacked. 

    Somehow, through a manic-depressive season, Pittsburgh pulled out the division win. It has Bell to thank in large part for that success, and it could really use him on the field as soon as possible. 

    It seems the Steelers may have found someone—Bell is reportedly "feeling great," per NFL.com's Aditi Kinkhabwalathough that doesn't necessarily mean he will be ready to roll against the Baltimore Ravens.

    Bell's injury underscores the need to find a viable backup—signing twice-discarded Ben Tate doesn't count—lest the Steelers rely on one man too much. They could also use better depth at other weak positions that have been impacted by injury like cornerback.

San Diego Chargers

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    Count to 10 before signing anyone

    The San Diego Chargers raced into free agency last offseason, only they probably should have slowed their roll a bit.

    Perhaps spooked by running back Toby Gerhart's three-year, $10.5 million contract with the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Chargers gave almost the same deal to Donald Brown just minutes later. As it turns out, that wasn't the best use of money.

    To be sure, the Chargers needed bodies in that backfield this season. Ryan Mathews, Danny Woodhead and Brown all spent time on the injured list with Woodhead getting knocked out for the year early, but was it really worthwhile signing a marginal talent to the richest contract of the offseason?

    Had the Chargers waited, they might have realized the running back position was on thin ice. Sure, they might have lost out on Brown, but then they would have had a little extra money to put toward bigger holes on the roster.

San Francisco 49ers

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    Avoid the pre-Harbaugh days

    The San Francisco 49ers and Jim Harbaugh had been heading toward a messy divorce for a while. The marriage finally ended without fanfare soon after San Francisco closed out its disappointing season with a win against the Arizona Cardinals.

    Harbaugh is off to his old stomping grounds at Michigan while the 49ers...well, that remains to be seen.

    It's easy to forget what it was like before Harbaugh showed up in San Francisco. The 49ers were a miserably mediocre lot under the likes of Dennis Erickson, Mike Nolan and Mike Singletary. Harbaugh's swift ascension made fans forget they were 46-82 in the eight years prior to his arrival.

    Which head coach will be able to keep that from happening ever again? Rex Ryan might be the man for the job—he wouldn't be handcuffed by the incredibly flawed roster the Jets had in recent years.

Seattle Seahawks

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    Norm Hall/Getty Images

    Change nothing 

    Sometimes, you don't need to make a New Year's resolution. Why should you when everything is going right in your life?

    That seems to be the case for the Seattle Seahawks, whose only issue might be that pesky salary cap. The Seahawks have regained their dominant Super Bowl form at the right time as they head into the playoffs, and they have locked down several of their key players for years to come.

    What's not to like?

    The biggest issue might be when it comes time to pony up for Russell Wilson, but they won't need to worry about that for another year. For now, they should just keep on keeping on.

St. Louis Rams

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    Get up the courage to break up with Jeff Fisher

    It would take resolve to move away from Jeff Fisher at this point, but the St. Louis Rams really could use some courage.

    Trolling Washington aside—you know, that stunt where he sent out every player he drafted thanks to the Robert Griffin III trade—Fisher has been wholly overrated as a head coach. That near-victory in Super Bowl XXXIV has sure gone a long way.

    Fisher wrapped up another underwhelming season in St. Louis, bringing his record to 74-85 over the past decade. He has just two winning seasons in that span. It may not be a horrific record, but that falls well short of expectations for a coach who was so hotly pursued just a few years ago.

    In fairness to Fisher, he has been dancing around an awful quarterback situation for much of that time, but it has also been his job to fix it. He has been unable to do that, instead giving Sam Bradford one last crack at it this season.

    We all know what happened there.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

    Just draft a quarterback, baby

    Josh McCown didn't take a safety to seal defeat for no reason, after all.

    The Tampa Bay Buccaneers had a chance to pull out a win against the Saints in Week 17 after having led for much of the game. New Orleans had mounted a furious comeback and scored in the waning minutes to take a 21-20 lead.

    Had the Bucs won, the top pick in the draft would have gone to the Tennessee Titans. Good thing head coach Lovie Smith decided to pull the starters to get a look at some other players on the roster. (Wink, wink, nudge, nudge.)

    According to Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times, the Bucs weren't trying to tank for the top pick:

    The guys you saw in the first half, the game plan was for them to be in there," Smith said. “The second half, we wanted to look at some more football players. I think that’s not out of the realm of possibilities, to look at some other guys. We’re not going to the playoffs and we have a comfortable lead and we’re going to run the football.

    "One win wouldn’t have helped an awful lot. We’re going to feel better when we’re winning our division. Until then, we don’t feel good about a lot except for knowing our roster a lot better and knowing the direction we need to go. If we had won today, we would’ve felt better about this game, but the season as a whole, that’s not where we want to be.

    At any rate, the Buccaneers now can choose whomever they like at the top of the draft, assuming they don't get a tidy sum in a trade for the No. 1 pick. That means the last two Heisman winners, Marcus Mariota and Jameis Winston, should be at the top of the list.

Tennessee Titans

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    John Raoux/Associated Press

    Accept the consolation prize

    For a little while it seemed like the Tennessee Titans were going to have their pick of the litter in the NFL draft. 

    They had a loss well in hand against the Indianapolis Colts, while the Tampa Bay Buccaneers seemed on track to beat the New Orleans Saints in Week 17. The Bucs wised up, however, and landed that top pick with a late collapse.

    That still leaves the Titans with the No. 2 pick in the draft. What they do with it will probably shape the franchise for the next decade.

    Assuming the Buccaneers select a quarterback at No. 1—Oregon's Marcus Mariota comes with the best combination of talent and character, making him a likely choice—the Titans should have no qualms taking the consolation prize at the position.

    Sure, Florida State's Jameis Winston comes with plenty of off-field question marks, but how long do the Titans want to stay in quarterback purgatory? He is a talented player on the field, and he's unlikely to fall all the way into the second round at this stage.

    The Titans have other needs, but a shot at a top-tier talent doesn't come around all that often, even in the top 10. Tennessee has firsthand experience with that, having been burned by Jake Locker with the eighth overall pick just a few years ago.

    Should Winston be taken first, or, by some miracle or happenstance, both quarterbacks are available at No. 2, Tennessee should run to the podium to draft Mariota. Take what you are given.


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    Nick Wass/Associated Press

    Find all the horcruxes

    As long as He Who Shall Not Be Named is the owner of the Washington franchise, a championship won't be coming to the nation's capital. 

    Dan Snyder might love his team, but sometimes you have to let go of the things you love. Bad decision after bad decision have come down from his ivory tower, and Washington fans have been through a grueling 15 years of disappointment under his reign.

    The team is 108-148 since Snyder bought it back in 1999, having made the playoffs just four times. Snyder is on his eighth head coach, and calls for Jay Gruden's head have already begun after just one season. 

    Snyder's team has a strong following of rabid fans, but a culture of losing is going to eventually bleed him dry. Washington needs new management before we can really expect a bona fide turnaround.

    All salary information courtesy of Spotrac.com. All statistics courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference.com. 

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