Offseason Advice for Every NFL Team
It doesn't hurt to seek a second opinion.
As the NFL offseason moves into a high-activity phase during the NFL Scouting Combine that concludes Monday, teams will evaluate players as they take a look at the incoming draft class.
At this juncture, front-office executives will publicly express their intention of keeping their options open on trades and free-agent signings. Typically, Indianapolis' Lucas Oil Stadium becomes a forum for ideas as club representatives mingle with each other.
Before the new calendar year starts March 13, we'll speak to the minds of the decision-makers. How should they approach free agency, the draft and current roster situations? What's the suggestion for the Arizona Cardinals, who hold the No. 1 overall pick? When is a good time for the Pittsburgh Steelers to trade wide receiver Antonio Brown?
Each recommendation highlights a solution to a roster issue or provides advice on how to better that team for the 2019 season.
Arizona Cardinals: If Possible, Trade No. 1 Overall Pick
Does this draft offer a must-have prospect for the Cardinals? Unless the front office plans to take Kyler Murray, this team should look to stockpile draft picks.
Head coach Kliff Kingsbury's favorable opinion on Murray as a No. 1 overall pick resurfaced shortly after he accepted the job in Arizona, but he recently said Josh Rosen is "our guy." General manager Steve Keim didn't have a strong endorsement for the UCLA product as the Cardinals' starting signal-caller, stating "for sure, he is, for now."
Rosen experienced a rough rookie campaign, throwing 11 touchdown passes and 14 interceptions while completing 55.2 percent of his attempts. Team brass fired the coaching staff after one season. The offensive line struggled to protect him; he took 45 sacks. With that said, Keim's comments may be instrumental in driving up the trade value for a team that wants Murray.
It's a draft loaded with defensive talent. The Cardinals can pass on taking Nick Bosa or any other prospect at No. 1 overall to pick up multiple early-round picks. That would allow Keim to address holes across the offensive line, add a wide receiver or take another high-potential player for the defense.
A 3-13 squad last season, the Cardinals have plenty of needs. The front office requires more ammunition to offset any possible misses. One player atop the draft isn't going to put Arizona on the fast track to the postseason.
Atlanta Falcons: Select a Defensive End Early in the Draft
Vic Beasley's 2016 campaign looks like an aberration, when he led the league in sacks with 15.5 and also forced six fumbles. Since then, the fourth-year veteran has accumulated 10 sacks and one forced fumble in 30 games, with only 17 being starts.
The Atlanta Falcons selected Beasley eighth overall in the 2015 draft, but he's performed at the level of a first-round pick in only one season. Based on status, the Clemson product has come up short of expectations. The 26-year-old goes into a contract year and probably needs a campaign similar to his All-Pro season to convince the front office to retain him on a second deal.
Instead of hoping for Beasley to rediscover his form as a top-notch pass-rusher opposite Takkarist McKinley, general manager Thomas Dimitroff should add some competition for him.
At best, a push from a young player with much to prove puts immense pressure on Beasley to produce. If he falls flat again, the Falcons can initiate a transition at defensive end during the season.
Baltimore Ravens: Take a Wide Receiver in the 1st Round
Last year, the Baltimore Ravens kicked off the draft with Hayden Hurst at No. 25 overall in an offseason focused on revamping the team's group of pass-catchers for Joe Flacco. Now that the quarterback's reportedly going to the Denver Broncos, barring a change of heart for either side, Lamar Jackson will take over the starting spot.
It's important general manager Eric DeCosta acquires receivers who suit the franchise signal-caller going forward. Jackson must progress as a passer. He attempted only between 19 and 25 passes in each of his seven regular-season starts, but he threatened defenses on the ground, averaging 17 carries per contest once he took over the huddle.
In order to help Jackson's development, the Ravens have to invest in wide receivers early in the draft. The front office released Michael Crabtree, and John Brown will become a free agent. Neither built a strong rapport with the former Heisman Trophy winner.
Assuming D.K. Metcalf comes off the board before the Ravens go on the clock with the 22nd overall pick, A.J. Brown and N'Keal Harry should come into play as potential pickups for an offense in need of a lead wideout.
Buffalo Bills: Sign and Draft Offensive Linemen
If the Buffalo Bills want to see quarterback Josh Allen succeed, team executives must add quality on the offensive line. The Wyoming product possesses the athleticism to mask holes up front, but the increased number of rushing attempts leaves him open to getting hit more. Similar to Jackson in Baltimore, a quarterback constantly on the run isn't a sustainable approach for him or the offense.
Allen missed four contests because of an elbow injury and took 28 sacks in 12 games. Like most quarterbacks, he could put up better passing numbers with more clean-pocket plays. The front office will likely find two new starters on the right side of the offensive line; guard John Miller and tackle Jordan Mills have expiring contracts.
During free agency, the Bills can acquire veteran offensive linemen to strengthen Allen's protection. Right tackle Daryl Williams has extensive starting experience with the Carolina Panthers. According to Miami Herald's Armando Salguero, a Dolphin may be available in the coming weeks. "Josh Sitton expects to be cut but certainty would be good," he wrote.
The search for offensive linemen shouldn't stop with free agency. Buffalo could have an opportunity to draft Jonah Williams with the No. 9 overall pick. Bleacher Report's Matt Miller lists the Alabama product as the ninth overall prospect on his big board. Assuming he's available, the Bills can plug him into the starting lineup if they choose not to sign a veteran at the position.
Carolina Panthers: Target Interior Offensive Linemen in Free Agency, Draft
Though he's yet to make a formal announcement, Panthers center Ryan Kalil acknowledged his plans to retire. Left guard Amini Silatolu's contract expires in the coming weeks.
The free-agent pool features several veterans capable of filling a short- or long-term role in the trenches. Left guards Ramon Foster, Rodger Saffold and Quinton Spain may suffice as candidates to fill that spot.
The draft in late April will feature three centers who could hear their names called within the first three rounds: Elgton Jenkins, Erik McCoy and Garrett Bradbury.
Carolina must protect the A- and B-gaps in front of Cam Newton, who's coming off a second shoulder surgery in two years. As he goes into his age-30 campaign, the Panthers may want to consider more runs between the tackles with a physical tailback as a change-of-pace option to Christian McCaffrey. But first, the front office must stabilize the center and left guard spots.
Chicago Bears: Select a Running Back with 88th Overall Pick
The Chicago Bears don't have a first- or second-round pick because of a draft-day trade with the New England Patriots last year and the Khalil Mack acquisition in September. Barring a transaction, general manager Ryan Pace won't have a selection until midway through the third round this year.
Fortunately for the Bears, the front office flipped the roster, specifically the offense, last offseason. Chicago re-signed tackle Bobby Massie to keep its offensive line intact, but there's a pressing issue in the backfield.
In 2018, running back Jordan Howard posted a career low in yards per carry (3.7). Perhaps it's going to take another season for him to adjust to head coach Matt Nagy's system. Pace can take a pre-emptive approach and choose a running back on Day 2 of the draft. Devin Singletary, Justice Hill and Myles Gaskin may be available at No. 88 overall.
The Bears selected Howard in the fifth round, and he earned a Pro Bowl invite as a rookie in 2016. Now, with his numbers trending down, the front office may find a better fit in April. Another pass-catching running back with a larger frame than Tarik Cohen's 5'6" and 181 pounds could move this offense into high gear.
Cincinnati Bengals: Draft a Day 2 Quarterback
The Cincinnati Bengals considered quarterback Mason Rudolph during the third round of last year's draft, per ESPN.com's Paxton Boyd. The Steelers moved up to No. 76 and selected the Oklahoma State product. With the next pick, the Bengals added defensive end Sam Hubbard.
The Bengals don't owe quarterback Andy Dalton any dead money over the last two years of his contract. He's also going into his age-32 season and missed the final five games of the 2018 term with torn ligaments in his thumb. The three-time Pro Bowler doesn't have a playoff win on his resume, even though that's a team statistic.
As first-year head coach Zac Taylor and his coaching staff steer this franchise in a new direction, who's to say Dalton will play out his entire contract?
Cincinnati can select a quarterback in Day 2 of the draft and potentially groom him into a long-term starter. Intriguing prospects such as Will Grier and Brett Rypien have upside after productive collegiate careers. They would have at least a year to develop before attempting to unseat Dalton as a starter.
Cleveland Browns: Draft a Dynamic Defensive Tackle
One part of the Cleveland Browns defensive line looked dominant at times, and the other came off as average in most games. Left end Myles Garrett and right tackle Larry Ogunjobi provided strong pocket pressure during the last season, combining for 19 sacks. They also had 22 tackles for a loss.
At times, tackle Trevon Coley and end Emmanuel Ogbah flashed but not often enough throughout the season. The former profiles as a decent rotation asset against the run; the latter has underwhelmed since the Browns selected him 32nd overall in 2016. They combined for 3.5 sacks and seven tackles for a loss.
The new coaching staff will likely give Ogbah a chance to make a strong impression because of his draft status. Coley probably won't have the same expectations to elevate his game as an undrafted product out of Florida Atlantic in 2016.
With the 17th overall pick, the Browns should have a legitimate shot at Dre'Mont Jones or Jerry Tillery—two defensive tackles who know how to pressure the pocket. Next to Ogunjobi, either prospect could put significant pressure on opposing offensive linemen in pass protection. The focus on the penetrators in the middle could help Ogbah achieve a breakout season.
Dallas Cowboys: Sign Demarcus Lawrence to a Long-Term Deal
According to Over the Cap, the Dallas Cowboys have $49.4 million in salary-cap space. It's the middle of the pack relative to other teams' financial capital, but the front office has enough to keep one of the league's top pass-rushers on the roster.
According to NFL Network's Tom Pelissero, Lawrence isn't interested in signing the franchise-tag tender for consecutive seasons. The 26-year-old had an early history of in-season injuries. He missed 16 contests in his first three years because of foot and back ailments, both of which required surgery. The fifth-year veteran is also expected to undergo a shoulder procedure during the offseason, per Dallas Morning News' Jon Machota.
Now playing at his best, it's no surprise the unrestricted free agent would prefer to ink a long-term deal as opposed to accepting one year of financial security. The two-time Pro Bowler has logged 25 sacks since 2016. He's by far the top pass-rusher for the Cowboys, which is his leverage going into the offseason.
Lawrence's absence would put a significant dent in a defense that ranked sixth in scoring and seventh in yards allowed last term. Without the pocket pressure, quarterbacks will have more time to pick apart a pass defense that ranked 13th in yardage allowed and logged just nine total interceptions in 2018.
The league suspended defensive end Randy Gregory indefinitely for violating its substance-abuse policy, which adds some pressure to retain Lawrence. The front office already made an initial offer to the defensive end's camp, per Machota. Now, it's up to the two sides to reach an agreement.
Denver Broncos: Select a Tight End on Day 2 of Draft
Assuming the trade for Flacco becomes official March 13, the Broncos have to take a look at what the Ravens did to help the 34-year-old signal-caller during his 11-year run in Baltimore. The use of tight ends became a recurring theme.
Todd Heap and Dennis Pitta became standouts with Flacco under center. The Ravens fortified their pass-catching unit with tight ends until his last season in Baltimore. The front office selected Hayden Hurst and Mark Andrews, hoping to re-energize the aerial attack.
Currently, the Broncos don't have a standout receiving tight end, but there's potential in Troy Fumagalli. In September, Jake Butt sustained a third ACL tear. Jeff Heuerman will hit the open market in the new calendar year.
The Broncos will have a treasure trove of receiving tight ends to consider in the draft, including Irv Smith Jr., Noah Fant, T.J. Hockenson, Josh Oliver and Jace Sternberger. The front office simply can't miss on a big-body target for Flacco.
Detroit Lions: Take a Cornerback with No. 8 Overall Pick
The Detroit Lions' cornerback situation closely mirrors the Cardinals' in recent years. On one side, there's a two-time Pro Bowl cover man, but there's instability or subpar play on the opposite side of the field.
Like Patrick Peterson, Darius Slay can only position himself in one place at a time. He put together another strong campaign, notching 17 pass breakups and three interceptions last season. Still, the Lions surrendered 29 touchdowns through the air, ranking 19th in the league.
Last offseason, Detroit signed cornerback Nevin Lawson to a two-year deal, but he's a Band-Aid on a huge void in the secondary. He's logged just 25 pass breakups since 2015. Let's put that in perspective; Slay broke up 26 passes during his 2017 All-Pro season alone.
Jalen Tabor, a 2017 second-rounder, hasn't developed into a playmaker yet. In fact, he's started just five games in two years. In 2018, the Florida product opened three consecutive contests with the first-unit defense but couldn't hold on to the role.
General manager Bob Quinn and head coach Matt Patricia have to put their heads together and find a perimeter playmaker for the secondary. Greedy Williams and Byron Murphy are two names to watch in the first round.
Green Bay Packers: If Available, Take Brian Burns at No. 12
Outside linebacker Clay Matthews will be a free agent. Nick Perry has battled significant knee and hand injuries, and he has also underwhelmed when on the field over the last two years, racking up just 38 solo tackles and 8.5 sacks.
The Packers can reinvigorate their pass rush with an edge-rusher using the No. 12 pick. Brian Burns racked up 23 sacks in three seasons at Florida State, and he possesses the natural bend that's conducive to beating offensive tackles off the edge. Before the combine, the junior standout bulked up to 249 pounds and looked impressive in his workouts.
Burns ran a 4.53 40-yard time, and he also maintained his agility and hip movement during the position drills. Green Bay could pounce on a prospect whose stock should see a spike leading up to the draft.
The Packers can flip their outside linebacker unit, with Kyler Fackrell coming off a 10.5-sack season and Burns on the opposite side.
Houston Texans: Acquire a Veteran Right Tackle During Free Agency
After Week 1 last season, Houston Texans right tackle Seantrel Henderson landed on injured reserve with a broken ankle. Kendall Lamm started in his absence, and he's headed to the open market.
Henderson doesn't have a strong track record as a starter. The 27-year-old hasn't opened more than one contest in a single season with the first-unit offense since 2015 because of Crohn's disease, two suspensions for substance-abuse policy violations and that ankle injury.
The Texans can dip their toe in the free-agent pool and pursue right tackles Daryl Williams or Ja'Wuan James if the latter doesn't come to terms on a new deal with the Dolphins.
Last year, Houston selected Martinas Rankin in the third round; he started three games at left tackle. Julie'n Davenport served in that role as the primary starter. Assuming the two battle for the position, the opposite side remains a mystery.
Quarterback Deshaun Watson took a league-high 62 sacks last year, which raises concerns for the front line. There's competition on his blind side, but there's a need for talent on the right.
Indianapolis Colts: Select a Wide Receiver Early in the Draft
Don't question general manager Chris Ballard and the front office. The Indianapolis Colts hit home runs with their first- and second-round picks in the last draft. Guard Quenton Nelson and linebacker Darius Leonard became rookie All-Pros, while Braden Smith started 13 contests at right tackle.
Coming off a 10-6 season and a trip to the playoffs, the offense needs a playmaker opposite wideout T.Y. Hilton. Ballard and company, owners of the Nos. 26 and 34 picks, should take an in-depth look at a wide receiver group that features several late first-round and early second-round talents.
The Colts will likely have a shot at the following prospects: N'Keal Harry, A.J. Brown, JJ Arcega-Whiteside, A.J. Brown and Deebo Samuel. Someone in that group could flourish in Indianapolis. Quarterback Andrew Luck is healthy, and he's throwing accurate darts again.
Last year, the Colts signed wide receiver Ryan Grant. He started 10 out of 14 contests but finished with just 35 catches for 334 yards.
Jacksonville Jaguars: Go All-In for Nick Foles
There's a connection between quarterback Nick Foles and John DeFilippo. The two worked together during the Philadelphia Eagles' 2018 Super Bowl run. The Jacksonville Jaguars offensive coordinator served as the quarterbacks coach that season, although it's fair to point out Frank Reich deserves credit as the play-caller for that offense.
Looking at DeFilippo's time as an offensive coordinator with the Minnesota Vikings, it's fair to say he elevated quarterback Kirk Cousins' game. The 30-year-old signal-caller notched a career-high 30 touchdown passes and completed 70.1 percent of his passes.
The Vikings offense didn't show much balance, but DeFilippo optimized the talent under center. He could potentially do the same with a familiar face. According to NFL Network's Mike Garafolo, there's mutual interest between Foles and the Jaguars.
As the team turns the page on quarterback Blake Bortles, the front office can push this squad back into contention with a Super Bowl MVP who fared well in Carson Wentz's absence over the last two years.
Kansas City Chiefs: Don't Rely on Eric Berry, Draft a Safety
Since 2017, safety Eric Berry has appeared in four games, one of which was a playoff contest. When healthy, he was a versatile All-Pro—often discussed as arguably the best at his position.
Last season, NFL Network's Mike Garafolo reported Berry battled Haglund's deformity (h/t NFL.com's Lakisha Jackson), a condition that causes bone spurs to dig into the Achilles. According to Yahoo Sports' Terez Paylor, Dr. Bob Anderson deemed surgery unnecessary to correct the ailment. Still, it's a gamble to count on him to remain healthy through an entire season.
This isn't a motion to give up on the 30-year-old, but the front office must overhaul the secondary in order to improve the pass defense, which ranked 31st in yards allowed and surrendered 30 touchdowns.
Kansas City drafted Armani Watts in the fourth round last year. This time around, general manager Brett Veach should consider an early choice such as Nasir Adderley or Deionte Thompson if he falls to the second round because of his recent wrist surgery.
Los Angeles Chargers: Sign a Veteran Right Tackle
As long as Philip Rivers remains under center, the Los Angeles Chargers have to approach the season in win-now mode. It's important to hit on early-round draft selections, but we all know it's a big guessing game with collegiate players coming into the league—some are riskier picks than others.
The Chargers started 2017 sixth-rounder Sam Tevi at right tackle for a majority of the 2018 season. Joe Barksdale held the role between the 2015-17 seasons but dealt with a knee injury last year. Los Angeles released him in December.
The coaching staff shouldn't just hand Tevi the standing job this season. He struggled in pass protection, which is expected of a reserve talent thrust into a prominent role under short notice.
The Chargers can't afford to put a pocket-passing 37-year-old quarterback in harm's way. General manager Tom Telesco can lock down the position with an experienced veteran looking for a new start and a chance to compete in the postseason.
Los Angeles Rams: Stay Aggressive with Acquisitions
Every year, only one team walks away with the Vince Lombardi Trophy. Thirty-one clubs come up short, and there are no consolation prizes.
However, some organizations can still view the positives as steps in the right direction. The Los Angeles Rams didn't see a lot of production from their 2018 draft class. They didn't make their first selection until the third round last year. Instead, the front office went after veterans, and that approach brought results.
The Rams couldn't beat the Patriots in Super Bowl LIII, but how did they reach the title game? General manager Les Snead acquired established veterans for the defense, trading for cornerbacks Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib. He also signed Ndamukong Suh to a one-year, $14 million deal. The front office also traded first- and sixth-round picks for wide receiver Brandin Cooks and a fourth-rounder.
The Rams injected their starting lineup with outsiders, most of whom made significant contributions.
Battling a knee injury for some parts of the term, Peters didn't have his best year, but he's on a rookie deal that carried a $1.7 million cap hit in 2018. Talib underwent ankle surgery, which cost him eight contests. When the cornerback duo took the field together, the Rams had a legitimate starting pair on the perimeter.
Cooks ranked second on the team in receiving yards (1,204) and was first in yards per reception (15.1). Suh filled the nose tackle role and occupied some double-teams. That took some heat off Aaron Donald, who led the league with 20.5 sacks. The 32-year-old recorded 4.5 sacks and four pass breakups.
The Rams made the right choice in fast-tracking their roster development with veteran talent. With quarterback Jared Goff on his rookie deal, Snead should keep his foot on the gas pedal in compiling assets on the market or via trade.
Miami Dolphins: Target Drew Lock in the 1st Round
The Dolphins are expected to look for a new quarterback, per Armando Salguero. "The Dolphins aren’t planning on letting Ryan Tannehill remain as the starter in 2019," the Miami Herald reporter wrote. "After seven years with the club, the people who run the organization, including owner Stephen Ross, are agreed they are moving on from Tannehill."
Assuming the move occurs this month, the Dolphins would officially enter the quarterback market. The organization hired a new head coach, Brian Flores. It's a fresh joint venture that's moving into a new era.
Although the 2019 quarterback class doesn't have a consensus top dog, Drew Lock is one of the most experienced passers being considered in the first round. Dwayne Haskins and Kyler Murray have one productive term as full-time starters. Daniel Jones led the huddle at Duke for three seasons, but his production pales in comparison to the Missouri product.
Lock has an extensive four-year resume, showed progress in ball placement and spread the targets around during his best season in 2017. Three of his wideouts eclipsed 700 receiving yards and logged at least six touchdowns that year.
The Dolphins might not need to start him right away, but his pocket poise indicates his readiness for the pro game.
Minnesota Vikings: StockpIle Offensive Linemen
The Vikings offensive line must undergo significant changes. According to Minneapolis Star-Tribune's Andrew Krammer, the coaching staff may move Riley Reiff inside to guard—similar to Mike Remmers' shift from the perimeter to the interior, which started late in the 2017 campaign.
Keep in mind Remmers' transition to guard didn't work out well. That doesn't mean Riley's potential position change will fail, but the Vikings better have a plan B in case the experiment backfires.
Left guards Nick Easton and Tom Compton will hit the free-agent market. The former sustained a herniated disk in his neck that required surgery. The latter started in his place, but he's been a backup for most of his career.
If you're counting, the Vikings may want to upgrade at right guard for Remmers, fill the left tackle spot if Riley moves inside and add a left guard as an alternative option to the 30-year-old on the interior. Assuming Minnesota wants to solve its offensive line issues, it'll take more than one acquisition to achieve results.
New England Patriots: Acquire a Dynamic Pass-Catcher
The Patriots don't have to limit their target to wide receivers. If tight end Rob Gronkowski retires, the front office should find his replacement in the upcoming draft, which is chock-full of talent at the position.
Let's say Gronkowski plays out the final year of his deal. At this stage in his career, it's fair to question whether the nine-year veteran could lead a pass-catching group as the most dynamic asset throughout an entire season. The four-time All-Pro hauled in critical receptions during the playoffs, but he averaged just 52.5 receiving yards per game and scored three touchdowns during the regular season.
According to Ian Rapoport, there's "a chance" the league reinstates wide receiver Josh Gordon, but it would be difficult to rely on him after multiple suspensions for substance-abuse policy violations. As wideouts Chris Hogan and Phillip Dorsett prepare for free agency, the Patriots have to consider a perimeter playmaker or pass-catching tight end early in April's draft.
New Orleans Saints: Re-Sign Teddy Bridgewater
Quarterback Drew Brees told reporters he intends to play another season. The Saints front office sent this year's first-rounder to the Packers in order to move up to the 14th overall spot for defensive end Marcus Davenport last year. Assuming New Orleans remains in the thick of the 2019 playoff race, they would have a low first-round pick for 2020.
Once Brees' contract expires at the end of the 2019 campaign, the Saints may have to scramble to find his successor. New Orleans can take early action and ink backup quarterback Teddy Bridgewater to a two-year deal. It would allow the team to comfortably transition from a likely Hall of Famer to a Pro Bowl signal-caller with upside.
In the above scenario, Bridgewater would've spent two years with the team before taking over as a starter in 2020. It's more than enough time to fully absorb the offensive system and familiarize himself with the roster. The Saints don't have to see a drop-off in the win-loss column post-Brees if Bridgewater carries and runs with the torch.
The Saints may have to compete with teams offering Bridgewater a shot to start next season, but he's worth an extra couple of million if necessary. He had a promising career in Minnesota before suffering a torn ACL and dislocated knee in August 2016.
New York Giants: Embrace the Kansas City Quarterback Model
Speaking at the combine, general manager Dave Gettleman touched on the way the Chiefs handled their quarterback situation over the last two years. They selected Patrick Mahomes with the No. 10 overall pick in the 2017 draft and sat him for a year behind Alex Smith. The front office traded the three-time Pro Bowler in the following year to Washington Redskins.
"The Kansas City model really worked well," Gettleman said (h/t ESPN.com's Jordan Raanan).
Head coach Pat Shurmur seems confident quarterback Eli Manning will lead the Giants' huddle for the next term, per Raanan: "Asked specifically if he expects Eli Manning to be on the team in 2019, Shurmur said, 'I fully expect him [back].'"
Though it's slightly different than the Chiefs' model, the Giants can land a quarterback in the upcoming draft and allow him to learn the ropes from Manning, who's entering the final year of his deal.
Because this quarterback class doesn't have a clear-cut No. 1 prospect, it's the perfect time to take a signal-caller and groom him the "old-fashioned way," which involves sitting out for a year before taking the field.
If Manning flounders, Big Blue would have the option to initiate the future plan at quarterback.
New York Jets: Select Josh Allen or Nick Bosa or Trade Back
The Jets hold the No. 3 overall pick but gave up their second-rounder to the Colts last year when the front office moved up to the same spot. New York has six draft selections in total.
Coming off a 4-12 season, Gang Green needs to land a top-notch prospect capable of helping this team right away or move back to accumulate picks. The latter strategy would help general manager Mike Maccagnan add offensive assets around quarterback Sam Darnold.
If the Jets have a shot at taking Nick Bosa or Josh Allen, it's a great acquisition for Gregg Williams' 3-4 defense. Either player could add a significant boost to the pass rush.
Perhaps both prospects come off the board at Nos. 1 and 2. Quinnen Williams would be a solid pick, but the Jets have Leonard Williams on the books for another year, and the front office could re-sign Henry Anderson. He broke out with seven sacks last year.
With Williams on the roster, and considering Anderson's standout season, how badly do the Jets need another defensive lineman unless he's a transcendent talent?
Gang Green can look to move back and fill multiple gaps on the offensive line to protect Darnold or add the top wide receiver in this class. Prospects at those positions aren't worth the No. 3 overall pick, but a range between No. 10 and 20 seems like a good landing spot for a high-potential offensive tackle or top-flight wideout.
Oakland Raiders: Don't Trade Derek Carr
Way back in October, CBSSports.com's Jason La Canfora suggested the Oakland Raiders could entertain a trade that involves quarterback Derek Carr amid a roster blowup.
"Ultimately, what's the point of keeping Derek Carr? And if you have all this draft capital and you get a one plus something else for Derek Carr, which I think [Jon Gruden] can—I'll call it right now, Derek Carr to the New York Giants. At the combine," La Canfora said on the Pick Six Podcast (h/t Will Brinson).
The front office sent Khalil Mack to the Bears and Amari Cooper to the Cowboys. It's plausible the Raiders would listen to offers for their starting quarterback and start from scratch.
However, Carr had a stellar 2016 campaign, possesses an impressive career touchdown-to-interception ratio (122-54) and did all of it with four offensive play-callers in five years. He's performed well despite coaching-staff instability.
General manager Mike Mayock spoke about Carr as a "franchise quarterback" Wednesday at the combine. His comments don't rule out a trade, but it's clear the executive thinks the 27-year-old is a capable starter in this league.
Carr took 51 sacks behind a putrid offensive line that ranked 25th in pass protection in 2018, per Football Outsiders. That group featured two rookie tackles, Kolton Miller and Brandon Parker, as starters for a majority of the season.
Before dealing Cooper, the Raiders released Michael Crabtree during the offseason, which stripped Carr of his top two wide receivers from previous years. Oakland should look to surround its starting signal-caller with weapons in the coming weeks. It's fair to wonder how he performs if the Raiders add and develop players around him as opposed to getting rid them.
Philadelphia Eagles: Acquire a Feature Running Back
In 2018, four Eagles running backs logged at least 45 carries, but none eclipsed 120 rush attempts. Josh Adams led the group and averaged 36.5 yards on the ground per contest.
Adams flashed in some moments during the 2018 term, but he didn't produce at the level of a featured ball-carrier. While the Eagles clawed their way into the postseason, the undrafted Notre Dame prospect looked average in the final two weeks of the season. He logged a combined 22 carries for 71 yards in those contests before disappearing in the NFC Wild Card Round against the Bears (one carry for two yards).
Furthermore, an increasing number of featured tailbacks display solid hands as receivers out of the backfield. Wendell Smallwood and Corey Clement fill that void, but the offense would be less predictable with a do-it-all running back to take most of the snaps.
Assuming Nick Foles signs elsewhere, the Eagles' success is tied to Carson Wentz's progress. Nevertheless, the front office can help him with a dynamic tailback who forces linebackers and safeties to step up in coverage, clearing some space for wide receivers in the intermediate passing attack.
Pittsburgh Steelers: Trade Antonio Brown Before the Draft
Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert says the team won't give Antonio Brown away now that the two sides have agreed to part ways. Pittsburgh traded Martavis Bryant to the Raiders for a third-round pick. Amari Cooper went to the Cowboys in exchange for a first-rounder.
The front office should try to acquire at least a second-round pick for Brown. He turns 31 in July, but he's shown no signs of slowing down. The four-time All-Pro led the league in touchdown receptions (15) last year and receiving yards in 2017 (1,533).
On the flip side, it's time to end this storyline. Pittsburgh doesn't need to deal Brown in haste, but it's best the team move on sooner than later. It's clear this player-organization fit has run its course. The star wide receiver has sent his goodbyes and thank-yous via social media to the Steelers fanbase.
According to Tom Pelissero, Colbert said Feb. 22 that three teams have inquired about Brown. If there's a second-rounder on the table, the Steelers could execute the deal and use that pick in the upcoming draft.
Pittsburgh selected receiver James Washington in the second round last year, so team brass can use the extra selection to address needs at guard or inside linebacker.
San Francisco 49ers: Pursue Antonio Brown
According to ESPN.com's Jeremy Fowler, the Steelers would prefer to send Antonio Brown to an NFC club. 49ers general manager John Lynch should pick up the phone and inquire about him.
The 49ers can look at the Rams, their division rivals, as a good example of an aggressive offseason approach. Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo isn't on a rookie deal like Jared Goff, but the Niners will have a projected $69.3 million to spend in the upcoming year.
San Francisco didn't land wideouts Allen Robinson or Sammy Watkins during free agency last year and selected Dante Pettis in the second round of the 2018 draft. The Washington product put together a solid rookie campaign, catching 27 passes for 467 yards and five touchdowns in 12 contests.
Marquise Goodwin profiles as a speedy slot receiver at best. In 11 games, he recorded 23 grabs for 395 yards and four touchdowns after racking up 962 yards in a full 2017 season. The front office declined Pierre Garcon's 2019 option, which made him a free agent.
Brown could vastly improve the 49ers' passing attack with top-shelf production. He and Garoppolo would wreak havoc as an emerging tandem.
Seattle Seahawks: Sign Frank Clark to a Long-Term Deal
The Seattle Seahawks may want to sign defensive end Frank Clark to a lucrative multiyear deal before the Cowboys ink Demarcus Lawrence to a long-term pact.
Lawrence's contract could set the floor for Clark's deal. Over the last three seasons, the Cowboys defensive end ranks 17th among defenders with 26 sacks; the Seahawks pass-rusher lists ninth with 32.
Typically, teams aren't in a rush to offer massive deals to defensive players, but Khalil Mack and Aaron Donald opened the floodgates last year. That said, they're arguably the league's top two talents on that side of the ball.
Now, with a premium on pass-rushers, we'll likely see the financial figures rise with every new deal. The Seahawks will want to avoid being one of the last teams to sign their top-notch defensive ends.
Clark won't top Mack or Donald in contract numbers, and Seattle has $50.9 million in cap space, which is enough to pay its top defensive player and still land second-tier free agents.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Draft a Running Back on Day 2 (Again)
In 2018, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers ground attack ranked 29th. Running back Peyton Barber underwhelmed in a starting role, and he'll become a restricted free agent. 2018 second-rounder Ronald Jones appeared in just nine games, recording 23 carries for 44 yards and a touchdown.
Jones could have a bounce-back season, but most backfields feature multiple tailbacks. The Buccaneers can potentially land a top prospect at the position to compete with the USC product for carries next year. They can also split the load and add another dimension to the offense.
If none of the top running backs come off the board on Day 1, Josh Jacobs would be an intriguing pickup early in the second round, especially if he shows off his receiving skills at the combine.
Head coach Bruce Arians intends to develop quarterback Jameis Winston into a more consistent passer. He also designed game plans that helped dynamic running back David Johnson produce at an All-Pro level in Arizona.
If Tampa Bay falls hard for a tailback in this class, the front office should look to upgrade the position early in the draft.
Tennessee Titans: Target a Wide Receiver Early in the Draft
Quarterback Marcus Mariota has cycled through three offensive coordinators. That's outside his control, but his numbers have significantly dropped over the last two seasons (24 touchdown passes and 23 interceptions). The 25-year-old signal-caller will have a new voice in his ear (Arthur Smith) after Matt LaFleur accepted the head-coaching job in Green Bay.
The front office can't bring LaFleur back for the sake of stability, but team brass could surround Mariota with more talent. Tight end Delanie Walker will go into his age-35 campaign, coming off a dislocated ankle with ligament damage.
Wide receiver Corey Davis hasn't lit the league on fire, which is a byproduct of the quarterback's struggles under center. Davis also saw suffocating coverage without a consistent playmaker behind him on the depth chart last year.
The Titans must equip the passing offense with another top-flight prospect on the perimeter to provide Mariota with a better chance at elevating his pass production.
Washington Redskins: Trade Up for a Quarterback
The Redskins have a projected $16.7 million in cap space for the upcoming year. They're on the hook for the remaining guarantees on Alex Smith's contract whether he plays another down or not. This squad may be able to land a Band-Aid signal-caller such as Ryan Fitzpatrick or Tyrod Taylor on the open market, but don’t expect an aggressive push for Nick Foles or Teddy Bridgewater.
Smith isn't expected to play for the 2019 term, per Ian Rapoport. Although it's possible the 34-year-old returns to the field at some point, it's best the front office move on and look for the future at quarterback.
Sitting at No. 15, Washington isn't in a good spot to land a top quarterback prospect. The Giants (No. 6), Jaguars (No. 7) and potentially the Dolphins (No. 13), assuming they release Ryan Tannehill, may all draft a player at the position. Don't count out Denver (No. 10) either; Joe Flacco is 34 years old.
If the Redskins want Dwayne Haskins, Drew Lock, Kyler Murray or Daniel Jones, the front office will need to make a few calls before or on draft day. Without Smith, and with limited cash, the team needs to consider all options to fill the void.