1 Thing Each NFL Team Should Provide This Offseason to Help Its QB

Maurice Moton@@MoeMotonFeatured ColumnistDecember 18, 2019

1 Thing Each NFL Team Should Provide This Offseason to Help Its QB

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    Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press

    As the centerpiece of the offense, a quarterback takes precedence over every other position. Front offices must find franchise signal-callers in order to compete at the NFL level. After that first step, general managers have to surround him with protection and playmakers.

    GMs can prop up their quarterbacks with key additions, an improved position group or by focusing on a specific element of the offense. 

    This year, the Minnesota Vikings emphasized the ground attack to help quarterback Kirk Cousins' efficiency. He's not going to post career numbers across the board, but the 31-year-old has put together one of his best seasons. 

    We'll go through all 32 rosters and highlight one aspect each team can improve or provide to help its quarterback.

           

Arizona Cardinals: Pass-Catching Tight End

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    Arizona Cardinals tight end Charles Clay
    Arizona Cardinals tight end Charles ClayRick Scuteri/Associated Press

    At the University of Oklahoma, rookie quarterback Kyler Murray moved the ball up and down the field with wideouts Marquise Brown and CeeDee Lamb on the perimeter, but he also targeted Grant Calcaterra in the seam areas and in the red zone. The 6'4", 227-pound tight end was third on the team in receptions (26) with 396 yards and six touchdowns in 2018. 

    The Arizona Cardinals signed tight end Maxx Williams to a two-year extension in November. He's left his mark as a pass-blocker but doesn't have a strong track record in the aerial attack. The fifth-year veteran has 75 catches for 640 yards and four touchdowns in 56 career games.

    Williams could see his role expand in the passing game, but Arizona should sign a big-bodied tight end who can consistently pose matchup issues. Charles Clay leads the team in receptions (17) and yards (221) at the position. He's set to hit the free-agent market in the offseason at 31 years old.

Atlanta Falcons: Reliable Ground Attack

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    Atlanta Falcons running back Devonta Freeman
    Atlanta Falcons running back Devonta FreemanCarmen Mandato/Getty Images

    Quarterback Matt Ryan may not say it, but he probably misses Kyle Shanahan's outside zone run scheme. 

    During the 2016 campaign, Shanahan served as the offensive coordinator for the Atlanta Falcons. He called the shots for that year's fifth-ranked ground attack, and Ryan had his best campaign, picking his spots within a balanced attack and winning league MVP.

    The Falcons ranked 26th in pass attempts, but the All-Pro signal-caller logged a career-high 38 touchdown passes while completing 69.9 percent of his throws. Atlanta finished with the top-scoring offense and the No. 2 unit in total yards.

    Over the last two terms, the Falcons have become reliant on Ryan's arm. In 2018, the team ranked fifth in pass attempts. This season, he is fifth in that category despite missing one game with a sprained ankle.

    Ryan has posted big numbers over the past two seasons (8,693 yards, 59 touchdowns and 19 interceptions in 29 contests), but the Falcons' high-powered passing attack hasn't done enough to outscore teams. Since 2018, the club is 12-18.

    Atlanta needs to see growth from rookie offensive linemen Chris Lindstrom and Kaleb McGary to elevate the ground attack. The former has only played three games because of a broken foot, and he'll need a strong showing in the summer. The Falcons offensive line ranks 27th in run-blocking adjusted line yards (3.84), per Football Outsiders.

Baltimore Ravens: Veteran Help at Wide Receiver

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    Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Seth Roberts
    Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Seth RobertsTimothy T Ludwig/Getty Images

    The Baltimore Ravens selected wide receiver Miles Boykin in the third round of this year's draft. He's provided sparks to the aerial attack, logging 12 receptions for 190 yards and three touchdowns, but the Notre Dame product has only secured more than two passes in a game on one occasion. Furthermore, he went catchless in seven outings.

    The Ravens can exercise some patience, but Boykin is not a lock to take another step in his sophomore campaign.

    Seth Roberts is tied with fellow wideout Marquise Brown and tight end Mark Andrews for second on the team in yards per catch (13.1). On a one-year deal, Roberts is set to hit the free-agent market in the upcoming offseason. If the Ravens don't re-sign him, they should pursue another wide receiver to fill the void.

    A savvy veteran like Emmanuel Sanders could elevate the passing game, much like he did for quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and the San Francisco 49ers.

    Quarterback Lamar Jackson has developed rapidly this season. The MVP candidate leads the league in touchdown passes (33), and as the 22-year-old grows within the offense, he'll be able to optimize more of the assets in his supporting cast.

    As Jackson continues to progress, Brown and Boykin may become more consistent deep targets, but the Ravens could use someone like Sanders racking up yards on underneath routes.

Buffalo Bills: Reliable Pass-Catching Tight End

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    Buffalo Bills tight end Dawson Knox
    Buffalo Bills tight end Dawson KnoxJohn Munson/Associated Press

    The Buffalo Bills don't have a flashy passing attack, but the unit can effectively move the ball without big-name wide receivers or a star tight end.

    If Dawson Knox continues to take steps in the right direction, he'll become a solid component in that attack. The 6'4", 259-pound rookie is third on the team in receiving yards (355).

    On the flip side, he has secured just two touchdowns with a 58.7 percent catch rate. The Bills need him to grow as a red-zone presence with their top two wide receivers, John Brown and Cole Beasley, listed under 6'0".

    In 2017, Tyler Kroft had a breakout year, logging 42 receptions for 404 yards and seven touchdowns. Since then, he's logged nine catches for 102 yards and a score. The 27-year-old has struggled with injuries as well, missing 16 games over the last two terms. In May, he broke his foot, and then he battled an ankle injury early in the season.

    Rookie seventh-rounder Tommy Sweeney has three receptions for 38 yards. Ninth-year veteran Lee Smith established a reputation for blocking rather than pass-catching and has yet to eclipse 78 receiving yards in a season. 

    Josh Allen's accuracy remains below-average at 59.3 percent, which ranks 31st among quarterbacks with at least eight starts. He would benefit from a reliable big-bodied target with a wide catch radius. 

Carolina Panthers: Veteran Help at Left Tackle

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    Carolina Panthers left tackle Greg Little
    Carolina Panthers left tackle Greg LittleRick Scuteri/Associated Press

    The Carolina Panthers have an unsettled situation with quarterback Cam Newton's future in question. At 30 years old, he's coming off a significant foot injury with years of wear and tear because of his physical playing style as a ball-carrier. Also of note, the front office will hire a new head coach in the offseason after firing Ron Rivera.

    Whoever the signal-caller is will need solid protection at left tackle, whether the Panthers decide to keep Newton or develop Kyle Allen, Will Grier or a 2020 rookie.

    Second-rounder Greg Little has played four games at left tackle, including three starts. The rookie has had lingering issues from a concussion and landed on injured reserve with a high ankle sprain.

    In Little's place, Daryl Williams and Dennis Daley have manned the position, giving up a combined 15 sacks, per the Washington Post's STATs.

    Williams has had far better seasons at right tackle, and he'll hit free agency after this campaign. As a rookie sixth-rounder in need of development, Daley has been prematurely thrust into starting duty because of Little's absence. 

    The Panthers selected Little with the No. 37 overall pick in 2019. He's expected to lock down the left tackle spot, but the front office must add veteran insurance in case of another injury. 

Chicago Bears: Interior Offensive Line Help

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    Chicago Bears right guard Kyle Long
    Chicago Bears right guard Kyle LongWill Newton/Getty Images

    When quarterback Mitchell Trubisky struggles to move the ball through the air, he needs support from the ground attack. 

    He has somewhat found his groove over the last three weeks, throwing for 916 yards, seven touchdowns and four interceptions, but the Chicago Bears' rushing offense ranks 29th leaguewide. The offensive line is 31st in run-blocking adjusted line yards (3.67), per Football Outsiders

    In the third round of this year's draft, the Bears selected physical tailback David Montgomery, who's recently hit his stride.

    "He has really adjusted well to the speed of the game," running backs coach Charles London said, per Chris Emma of 670 The Score. "... Each week, he's getting more and more comfortable. I think you've kind of seen that in the way he's played the last couple weeks."

    Nevertheless, Montgomery won't reach his full potential behind a poor run-blocking front line. If the Bears move on from oft-injured guard Kyle Long, they should pursue a big mauler to replace him on the interior.

    Long hasn't played more than 10 games in a season since 2017 because of injuries. Chicago can decline the 2020 option on his contract and look elsewhere for a more durable presence at guard.

Cincinnati Bengals: Depth at Left Tackle

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    Cincinnati Bengals left tackle Jonah Williams
    Cincinnati Bengals left tackle Jonah WilliamsAssociated Press

    Similar to the Panthers, the Cincinnati Bengals don't have a presumed starting quarterback for the 2020 campaign, but whoever opens the season under center needs solid pass protection. 

    Rookie first-rounder Jonah Williams underwent offseason shoulder surgery, which will keep him out for the entire term. In the meantime, the Bengals tried to patch up the left tackle spot with Andre Smith, John Jerry and Cordy Glenn.

    Glenn, who's 30 years old, would've been the ideal fill-in starter because of his experience, but he's had a turbulent year. During the second preseason game, he suffered a concussion, and he didn't return to practice until mid-October.

    The eighth-year veteran and the team had a "heated" dispute about the handling of his concussion symptoms, per Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio. Glenn reportedly felt rushed back to action. The Bengals suspended Glenn for one game because of conduct detrimental to the team and listened to trade offers for him, per Tyler Dragon of the Cincinnati Enquirer.

    On the field, he's allowed 2.5 sacks in four outings, per the Washington Post's STATs

    Based on all the turmoil between Glenn and the Bengals, he's unlikely to play out the final year of his contract in Cincinnati. The team released Smith, and Jerry will become a free agent in 2020.

    The Bengals desperately need Williams healthy next year, but the offensive line could also use depth in case the Alabama product struggles in his first campaign as a starter.

Cleveland Browns: Kareem Hunt on a New Deal

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    Cleveland Browns running back Kareem Hunt
    Cleveland Browns running back Kareem HuntRick Scuteri/Associated Press

    Wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. isn't happy in Cleveland, according to Jay Glazer of Fox Sports. General manager John Dorsey may attempt to smooth over matters with him after acquiring the three-time Pro Bowler in exchange for a first-round pick, a third-rounder and safety Jabrill Peppers.

    That's a situation to monitor in the offseason.

    With that said, Beckham didn't elevate the Browns' passing offense. Now with rumors about his desire to go elsewhere, the front office should hold on to Kareem Hunt as a dynamic long-term asset.

    If Hunt remains in Cleveland, he and Nick Chubb could form one of the best running back tandems in the league. In six contests, the Hunt has recorded 387 yards and three touchdowns from scrimmage. 

    With Hunt in the backfield, the Browns can take some pressure off quarterback Baker Mayfield, who's coming off a disappointing sophomore campaign. He's thrown for 17 touchdowns and 17 interceptions while completing 60.1 percent of his passes.

    Chris Rose of NFL Network (via 92.3 The Fan) thinks the Browns will "likely" move on from Beckham and Hunt in the offseason. If true, they should reconsider their thoughts on the latter to keep a dual-threat asset around Mayfield.

Dallas Cowboys: Amari Cooper on a New Deal

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    Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Amari Cooper
    Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Amari CooperRoger Steinman/Associated Press

    Let's assume the Dallas Cowboys retain Dak Prescott since it would be a shocker if they let him go after his most productive season. 

    Think back to when Prescott's production had an uptick.

    Last year, the Cowboys acquired wideout Amari Cooper from the Oakland Raiders. That transaction provided Prescott with a top-notch perimeter asset while saving the club's season. Dallas went 7-2 with the three-time Pro Bowl wideout.

    Although the Cowboys have struggled to earn victories against formidable opponents this year, Prescott has season highs in passing yards (4,334) and touchdowns (26). Cooper is eighth in the NFL with 1,073 receiving yards and has an impressive 69.6 percent catch rate. 

    Clearly, Prescott and Cooper have built upon last year's connection, giving the Cowboys an explosive quarterback-wide receiver tandem The front office ought to keep the pair together for years to come. 

    According to Calvin Watkins of the Dallas Morning News, Cooper would like to wait until the offseason to discuss a new deal. He should be priority No. 2 after Prescott in contract negotiations.

Denver Broncos: No. 2 Wide Receiver

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    Denver Broncos wide receiver DaeSean Hamilton
    Denver Broncos wide receiver DaeSean HamiltonDavid J. Phillip/Associated Press

    Before a rough outing against the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday, quarterback Drew Lock played well in his first two starts, throwing for 443 yards, five touchdowns and two interceptions. Wide receiver Courtland Sutton and tight end Noah Fant have been his primary pass-catching options.

    Going into the offseason, the Broncos should add a complementary wide receiver opposite Sutton. That assumes DaeSean Hamilton or Tim Patrick, who's set to become a restricted free agent after this year, slide into the No. 3 spot. 

    Courtland stands at 6'4", 216 pounds; he's a big target with limited high-end speed. Fant is one of the most athletic tight ends in the league, but he's not a blazer after the catch. 

    Lock needs a wide receiver who's capable of outrunning defenders after the reception.

    In October, the Broncos traded Emmanuel Sanders to the San Francisco 49ers. For four-plus years, the 5'11", 180-pound Sanders was the smaller, shifty wide receiver on the perimeter opposite Demaryius Thomas (6'3", 225 lbs). Now, the front office must add another dimension to a developing aerial attack.

Detroit Lions: Depth at Running Back

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    Detroit Lions running back Bo Scarbrough
    Detroit Lions running back Bo ScarbroughLeon Halip/Getty Images

    This season, quarterback Matthew Stafford has missed six games because of fractured bones in his back and a hip injury. On a positive note, he's been relatively healthy in recent years, playing in every contest between 2011-18.

    Stafford has lost his starting running back in consecutive campaigns. In his first two seasons, Kerryon Johnson has landed on injured reserve with a knee ailment. He's missed 14 contests.

    In order to maintain balance, the Detroit Lions must be prepared to move the ball on the ground without Johnson, who also struggled with injuries throughout his collegiate career at Auburn.

    While offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell wants to add a physical aspect through the ground attack, he needs the appropriate assets to carry out his approach. 

    Before missing Sunday's game with a rib injury, rookie Bo Scarbrough put together a string of solid outings in the starting role, registering 72 carries for 301 yards and a touchdown. The Lions signed Scarbrough to the practice squad in November and then promoted him to the active roster within 10 days.

    The Lions should keep the Alabama product on the roster to handle some of the rushing workload, which would help preserve Johnson for the long haul. Secondly, Stafford may take fewer hits with a stronger ground attack.

Green Bay Packers: Reliable No. 2 Pass-Catching Option

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    Green Bay Packers wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling
    Green Bay Packers wide receiver Marquez Valdes-ScantlingMike Roemer/Associated Press

    Although the Green Bay Packers have a balanced offensive attack under head coach Matt LaFleur (19th in pass attempts, 16th in carries), quarterback Aaron Rodgers needs a reliable threat downfield other than wideout Davante Adams.

    Since Week 9, Marquez Valdes-Scantling's offensive snaps have plummeted. He's caught one pass for seven yards on seven targets over the last five outings. Geronimo Allison hasn't eclipsed 40 receiving yards or scored a touchdown since Week 4. Allen Lazard has flashed but doesn't have more than three catches in a game since Week 8. 

    Because of his proven history as a pass-catching tight end, Jimmy Graham is a recognizable cog in the offense, but he's underwhelmed since signing with the Packers during the 2018 offseason. Last year, the five-time Pro Bowler finished with two touchdowns, which tied his season low in the category. He's on pace for 436 receiving yards this season.

    In 2019, Packers wide receivers struggled to fill the void when Adams missed Weeks 5-8 with turf toe. During that time frame, running back Aaron Jones led the team in catches (22), yards (280) and receiving touchdowns (three). 

    Allison will become an unrestricted free agent in the offseason. The front office should sign a veteran wide receiver while Valdes-Scantling and Lazard attempt to establish consistency.

Houston Texans: Offensive Line Consistency

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    Left guard Max Scharping
    Left guard Max ScharpingMichael Hickey/Getty Images

    The Houston Texans offensive line has made steps in the right direction. Last year, quarterback Deshaun Watson was sacked a league-high 62 times. Through 14 contests, he's taken 39, which is the sixth-most in 2019.

    The team can't be satisfied with incremental improvements, however, and the coaching staff must stick to a five-man group to help the unit jell in the upcoming offseason. 

    Furthermore, rookies Max Scharping and Tytus Howard have to make sophomore strides to solidify the group. The latter landed on injured reserve with an MCL injury after Week 12. 

    Howard has allowed 2.5 sacks in eight contests, per the Washington Post's STATs, and the Texans have high hopes for Scharping, per John McClain of the Houston Chronicle.

    "Devlin loves Scharping," McClain wrote. "So do [head coach Bill] O'Brien and OC Tim Kelly. He'll be a fixture in the lineup for years. And, yes, he's improved on an almost weekly basis."

    With left tackle Laremy Tunsil in the fold and the rookie offensive linemen showing promise, the group should improve as the players spend more time on the field together. Instead of mixing and matching between the first and second units in the offseason, Houston should nail down its starting five and work on continuity.

Indianapolis Colts: No. 2 Wide Receiver

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    Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Zach Pascal
    Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Zach PascalBrett Carlsen/Getty Images

    In September, the Indianapolis Colts extended quarterback Jacoby Brissett on a two-year deal. Now, they need to supply him with offensive playmakers, specifically on the perimeter.

    In six out of 12 complete contests, Brissett has thrown for fewer than 200 yards. In the two of the most recent instances, wideout T.Y. Hilton was sidelined or on a limited count (25 offensive snaps).

    In March, the Colts attempted to add a No. 2 wideout in Devin Funchess, but he landed on injured reserve with a broken collarbone after the season opener. His deal expires at the end of the season.

    Eric Ebron couldn't replicate his standout 2018 campaign. He finished with 375 yards and three touchdowns before going on injured reserve for surgery on both ankles. The pass-catching tight end will also hit the free-agent market in 2020.

    The Colts can't fully gauge rookie second-round wide receiver Parris Campbell's upside because he's missed time with an abdominal injury and a fractured hand. The team placed him on injured reserve with a broken foot after Week 14. 

    If general manager Chris Ballard wants to see Brissett take a significant leap as a starter, he needs to load up on receivers in hopes someone puts a stronghold on the No. 2 spot behind Hilton. Zach Pascal is still inconsistent. The second-year pro has been limited to fewer than 45 yards in four of his last six outings.

Jacksonville Jaguars: More Perimeter Protection

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    Jacksonville Jaguars left tackle Cam Robinson
    Jacksonville Jaguars left tackle Cam RobinsonPhelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press

    The Jacksonville Jaguars have a question mark at quarterback. The coaching staff benched Nick Foles after his fourth start, and rookie sixth-rounder Gardner Minshew II will likely finish the season under center.

    Also, the organization may turn over the coaching staff and front office, per Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports. That could put the veteran or an incoming rookie in position to open 2020 at the helm. 

    Regardless, the offensive tackles have to a better job in pass protection. Cam Robinson and Jawaan Taylor have allowed a combined 15 sacks this season, per the Washington Post's STATs.

    Taylor's lapses seem less worrisome because he's a rookie. The Jaguars can view his struggles as growing pains. The coaching staff may have more concern for Robinson, who's in his third season. As a first-year tackle, he only allowed two sacks in 15 starts. This season, the Alabama product has become a turnstile on the perimeter.

    If Jacksonville fears continued regression for Robinson, the front office could sign a veteran left tackle on a one-year deal as insurance for the starting quarterback.

Kansas City Chiefs: Dynamic Running Back

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    Kansas City Chiefs running back LeSean McCoy
    Kansas City Chiefs running back LeSean McCoySteven Senne/Associated Press

    LeSean McCoy used to fit the above description. On the ground, he was elusive with the ball. The two-time first-team All-Pro also provided a boost in the short passing game, logging 475 receptions for 3,616 yards and 15 touchdowns over the first 10 years of his career.

    At 31 years old, McCoy isn't the same player. Sure, he's shared the backfield with Damien Williams, Darrel Williams and Darwin Thompson, but the 11th-year veteran cannot mask subpar run blocking up front. The Chiefs rank 30th in that category based on adjusted line yards (3.7), per Football Outsiders.

    Secondly, McCoy will be a free agent in the offseason. Since 2017, his touches have dropped significantly—a trend that will likely continue while he's on the back end of a long career.

    The Chiefs should acquire a running back who provides a similar skill set to McCoy in his younger days. The versatile tailback would be able to handle a bigger workload and serve as an explosive, big-play target in the short passing game.

Los Angeles Chargers: Hunter Henry on a New Deal

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    Los Angeles Chargers tight end Hunter Henry
    Los Angeles Chargers tight end Hunter HenryPhelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press

    Philip Rivers may not have much time left under center with the Los Angeles Chargers, but the team can do its best to support him in the meantime.

    Even if the Chargers don't want to re-sign Rivers or he walks in free agency, the offense should keep tight end Hunter Henry on the books to provide their signal-caller with a big target (6'5", 250 lbs) to challenge defenses in the red zone.

    Despite suffering a torn ACL in May 2018 and a tibial plateau fracture in his knee in September, Henry recorded 16 touchdown receptions in 39 career appearances. He's tied for second in that category among Chargers pass-catchers since coming into the league as a second-round draft pick in 2016.

    The franchise utilized tight end Antonio Gates in the passing game for 16 seasons. Henry could be the next long-term playmaker at the position.

Los Angeles Rams: Offensive Line Consistency

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    Los Angeles Rams right tackle Bobby Evans
    Los Angeles Rams right tackle Bobby EvansRick Scuteri/Associated Press

    This season, the Los Angeles Rams offensive line took a step backward. The unit lost left guard Rodger Saffold during free agency. Joseph Noteboom (torn ACL and MCL) and Brian Allen (MCL) landed on injured reserve. The former struggled with his blocking assignments before his season came to an end.

    Over the last five weeks, Austin Corbett has stepped in at left guard, and Bobby Evans put together a few solid starts in place of Rob Havenstein at right tackle. Still, the Rams need to address the left tackle position if they don't re-sign 38-year-old Andrew Whitworth. 

    Assuming Allen returns to the pivot and David Edwards holds his position at right guard, the Rams don't need to re-sign Austin Blythe, who plays both positions. However, the coaching staff must work diligently to help the new pieces jell this offseason. 

    Jared Goff is a more efficient passer with a reliable ground attack, which requires a strong offensive line. Even though the workload of Todd Gurley II has become a hot-topic discussion, Los Angeles can see more production from Malcolm Brown and Darrell Henderson with an improved five-man front. 

    Goff had his best season (32 touchdowns and 12 interceptions) paired with the No. 3 ground attack last year. In 2019, he's thrown for 17 scores and 15 picks, and Los Angeles ranks 24th in rushing yards.

Miami Dolphins: Revamped Offensive Line

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    Miami Dolphins center Daniel Kilgore
    Miami Dolphins center Daniel KilgoreAl Bello/Getty Images

    Ryan Fitzpatrick, Josh Rosen or an incoming rookie will likely start under center for the Miami Dolphins in 2020. The club can't expect much out of any of the signal-callers behind their current offensive line, which ranks 32nd in run blocking and 29th in pass protection, per Football Outsiders.

    Before the Dolphins look at flashy talent at the skill positions, they need to strengthen their offensive front to keep the quarterback upright and widen the running lanes on the ground. 

    If general manager Chris Grier buys into the philosophy of building his roster inside-out, the coaching staff should see more production out of the quarterback, whether he's an experienced veteran like Fitzpatrick or a young talent with room for growth. 

    Other than Daniel Kilgore, who's a decent center, the Dolphins can turn over their entire offensive line for significant upgrades.

Minnesota Vikings: New Left Tackle

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    Minnesota Vikings left tackle Riley Reiff
    Minnesota Vikings left tackle Riley ReiffStephen Maturen/Getty Images

    Quarterback Kirk Cousins doesn't need much to maintain or improve his efficiency in the pocket. The Vikings field the No. 4 ground attack and the 11th-ranked offensive line in pass protection, per Football Outsiders.

    According to the Washington Post's STATs, left tackle Riley Reiff has some issues in pass-blocking assignments, allowing 4.25 sacks this season. That number has increased every year since 2017.

    In 2020, Reiff's contract will carry a $13.2 million cap hit, and he hasn't performed like a top player at his position. Minnesota should bring in competition. If the newcomer wins the battle, the front office can designate Reiff as a post-June 1 cut and save $11 million, per Over the Cap

    Reiff isn't a complete liability, but the Vikings can explore an approach that would help Cousins and recoup some cap space.

New England Patriots: Pass-Catching Tight End

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    New England Patriots tight end Ben Watson
    New England Patriots tight end Ben WatsonMitchell Leff/Getty Images

    Let's assume tight end Rob Gronkowski is done with football. The New England Patriots can't replace a unique talent like him, but they can find someone who presents matchup issues in the aerial attack. 

    The offense has developing pieces in other positions, and quarterback Tom Brady (assuming he returns) needs an X-factor and a go-to pass-catcher in the red zone. He's witnessed a dip in touchdown rate (3.8) and passing yards per game (254.6) in comparison to the two previous campaigns. 

    Tight end Ben Watson, who's just turned 39, doesn't move the needle. He's caught 13 passes for 154 yards in eight games.

    Matt LaCosse and Ryan Izzo haven't done enough to establish themselves as the future at the position. The former has 12 catches for 123 yards in nine contests (six starts). The latter has hauled in six receptions for 114 yards and a score in six outings (four starts).

New Orleans Saints: No. 2 Wide Receiver

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    New Orleans Saints wide receiver Ted Ginn Jr.
    New Orleans Saints wide receiver Ted Ginn Jr.John Amis/Associated Press

    For most of his three-year tenure in New Orleans, Ted Ginn Jr. has held a starting role, opening 23 out of his 34 contests. At 34 years old, he'll hit the free-agent market coming off another down season, having logged 29 receptions for 411 yards and two touchdowns.

    Also, Tre'Quan Smith had an ankle injury and has been inconsistent. He's been unable to build on flashes from his rookie campaign, registering 12 receptions for 165 yards and four touchdowns.

    Undrafted rookie wideout Emmanuel Butler flashed during the summer, but the Saints waived him before the season.

    Tight end Jared Cook has provided a spark in the passing attack, hauling in four touchdown receptions since Week 11. Yet the Saints could use a productive wide receiver capable of drawing coverage away from Michael Thomas.

    They may have quarterback Drew Brees for another year. If not, they can re-sign Teddy Bridgewater and turn the offense over to him after his impressive showing (nine touchdowns and two interceptions in five starts). Either would put up solid numbers with Thomas, Cook and a viable third option in the aerial attack.

New York Giants: Help at Offensive Tackle

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    New York Giants right tackle Mike Remmers
    New York Giants right tackle Mike RemmersCharles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press

    The New York Giants should have at least one new starting offensive tackle in 2020. Nate Solder and Mike Remmers, who man the left and right sides, are arguably the worst bookend pass-blockers in the league. They've allowed 17.5 sacks this season, per the Washington Post.

    Solder has two more years left on his deal. Remmers' contract will expire at the end of the season.

    The Giants can't expect rookie quarterback Daniel Jones to reach his full potential if he has to keep his eyes on opposing edge-rushers rather than the pass-catchers downfield. He already has a high ankle sprain after taking 33 sacks in 11 appearances.

    Big Blue can consider impending free-agent right tackles Jack Conklin, Daryl Williams and Bryan Bulaga to replace Remmers.

    This season, Williams has struggled at left tackle in Carolina, but he's played well on the right side in recent years.

    There's some familiarity between Williams and Giants general manager Dave Gettleman, which may lead to a reunion if the latter is retained. As a front-office executive for the Panthers, Gettleman selected Williams in the fourth round of the 2015 draft.

New York Jets: Revamped Offensive Line

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    New York Jets right guard Brian Winters
    New York Jets right guard Brian WintersMark Brown/Getty Images

    The New York Jets field one of the worst offensive lines in the league. They need a complete overhaul of the five-man group.

    According to Football Outsiders, the Jets rank 25th in run-blocking and 30th in pass protection. Quarterback Sam Darnold is constantly under pressure, and running back Le'Veon Bell can't help him out with little room to run.

    Left tackle Kelvin Beachum, right tackle Brandon Shell and center Ryan Kalil, who came out of retirement, have expiring deals. Guards Alex Lewis and Tom Compton will also hit free agency after serving as fill-in starters for Brian Winters (dislocated shoulder) and Kelechi Osemele (torn labrum), who was later released.

    Chuma Edoga, who replaced Shell at right tackle, has allowed six sacks in eight contests, per the Washington Post. Keep in mind, he was a draft pick under former general manager Mike Maccagnan, who was fired in May. Joe Douglas may not keep the USC product in a starting role.

    Douglas' top offseason objective should be to focus on remodeling the line, which doesn't have any established talent aside from Winters—an average guard at best.

Oakland Raiders: No. 1 Wide Receiver

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    Oakland Raiders wide receiver Tyrell Williams
    Oakland Raiders wide receiver Tyrell WilliamsDaniel Shirey/Getty Images

    The Raiders rolled the dice on Antonio Brown and crapped out when he asked for an outright release before the season. In September, head coach Jon Gruden acknowledged the wide receiver's departure hampered quarterback Derek Carr and the offense.

    On top of that, wideout Tyrell Williams has had plantar fasciitis since September. He has been held under 50 receiving yards in nine of 12 outings and has scored just once since Week 8.

    Even if Williams can stay healthy next season, the offense won't reach another level without a lead wideout.

    In his best campaign (2016), Carr had two 1,000-yard wide receivers in Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree. Over the last two years under Gruden, Jordy Nelson, at 33 years old, was the most productive Raiders wideout in a season, logging 63 catches, 739 receiving yards and three touchdowns.

    Carr can be ultra-conservative with his arm, but he's limited with Williams as his best wide receiver.

Philadelphia Eagles: Speedy Deep-Threat Wide Receiver

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    Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson
    Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeSean JacksonChris Szagola/Associated Press

    In one full regular-season game together, quarterback Carson Wentz and wide receiver DeSean Jackson put on a show. They connected on eight plays for 154 yards and two touchdowns.

    Unfortunately for the Philadelphia Eagles, Jackson only suited up for that one outing from start to finish and landed on injured reserve with an abdominal injury in November. The big-play wideout has two more years on his deal but will play his age-34 term next year.

    Instead of relying on Jackson to bring an explosive element to the passing attack, the Eagles should explore alternative options.

    Wide receivers Nelson Agholor will become a free agent in the offseason, Alshon Jeffery has to recover from a Lisfranc injury and J.J. Arcega-Whiteside is still in the early stages of development.

    With question marks and an expiring contract at wideout, general manager Howie Roseman needs to add talent, specifically another deep threat to complement Jeffery and Arcega-Whiteside.

Pittsburgh Steelers: Reliable Veteran Wide Receiver

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    Pittsburgh Steelers wideout James Washington
    Pittsburgh Steelers wideout James WashingtonRick Scuteri/Associated Press

    The Pittsburgh Steelers' top three wideouts, JuJu Smith-Schuster, James Washington and Diontae Johnson, are all 23-year-old developing talents.

    Smith-Schuster jumped to a quick career start as the No. 2 option behind Antonio Brown, but he's taken a step back as the lead wide receiver. He's also had injuries (toe and knee ailments along with a concussion).

    Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger can certainly make the most out of a young wide receiver group, but he needs a savvy veteran who can win matchups on crucial third downs—a chain-mover. Ryan Switzer hasn't established himself in that role. Last offseason, the Steelers signed Donte Moncrief, but they released the sixth-year veteran in November.

    General manager Kevin Colbert can add a glue guy to the position while the youngsters go through their growing pains.

San Francisco 49ers: No. 1 Wide Receiver

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    San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders
    San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Emmanuel SandersMichael Zagaris/Getty Images

    In his first six outings this season, quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo didn't log 300 passing yards and threw for three touchdowns on only one occasion.

    Since the San Francisco 49ers acquired Emmanuel Sanders via trade with the Broncos, he's helped elevate Garoppolo's production. The signal-caller has thrown for 300-plus yards with four touchdowns in three contests since Oct. 22.

    San Francisco may think twice about re-signing Sanders as he goes into his age-33 term, but general manager John Lynch should take note of Garoppolo's improved play with upgraded talent.

    Perhaps San Francisco will consider a trade for Odell Beckham Jr., who's unhappy in Cleveland, per Jay Glazer of Fox Sports. If Dallas doesn't re-sign Amari Cooper, he's also an option and wouldn't cost premium draft capital. If healthy and available, A.J. Green may cross Lynch's radar in the offseason as well.

Seattle Seahawks: New Right Tackle

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    Seattle Seahawks right tackle Germain Ifedi
    Seattle Seahawks right tackle Germain IfediRalph Freso/Getty Images

    Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson has one of the most productive rookie wide receivers in DK Metcalf. He leads all first-year players in catches (52) and lists third in yards (819).

    Running back Rashaad Penny is out for the season with a torn ACL, but the team has depth at the position with rookie sixth-rounder Travis Homer.

    Wilson needs pass protection. Over the years, he's been under constant duress in the pocket, using his legs as a necessity to keep plays alive.

    Right tackle Germain Ifedi has allowed 6.5 sacks this season, per the Washington Post.

    Once Ifedi's contract expires at the end of the term, the Seahawks should upgrade his position, which would go a long way in strengthening Wilson's pass protection. A new addition at that spot can also keep the ground attack effective—providing balance to the offense.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Dynamic Running Back

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    Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Ronald Jones II
    Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Ronald Jones IIStephen Brashear/Getty Images

    If the Tampa Bay Buccaneers plan to move forward with quarterback Jameis Winston, the coaching staff must acquire a dual-threat running back to improve the signal-caller's efficiency.

    Winston can make plays with his arm, but he's prone to turnovers. Through 15 weeks, the 25-year-old has registered a league-high 4,573 passing yards but also leads the NFL in interceptions (24).

    If head coach Bruce Arians and offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich want to cut down on Winston's mistakes, they need a dynamic running back.

    Ronald Jones II made strides in his sophomore term, but he's not a workhorse tailback and lacks consistency as a pass-catcher. Peyton Barber lost his starting job to Jones in a contract year and averages an unimpressive 3.4 yards per touch.

    The Buccaneers can pursue Chargers running back Melvin Gordon III in hopes that he can provide Winston with a high-percentage target in the short passing game.

Tennessee Titans: New Pass-Catching Running Back

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    Tennessee Titans running back Dion Lewis
    Tennessee Titans running back Dion LewisJacob Kupferman/Getty Images

    The Tennessee Titans may re-sign Derrick Henry as their workhorse running back for years to come, but they need a better complement to him in the backfield.

    Henry can run over defenders, but he's not a reliable pass-catcher with three drops this season. That's why the Titans should consider a high-performance running back in a niche role on passing downs.

    After a solid first season in Tennessee, logging 917 yards and two touchdowns from scrimmage, Dion Lewis' production has dipped this year. He has 279 yards with one score through 14 games.

    The Titans can exercise some patience with Lewis in hopes he will have a bounce-back season, but the front office shouldn't hesitate to pursue a younger talent in free agency or during the draft to bolster the short passing game.

    With the Titans building around quarterback Ryan Tannehill, per ESPN's Dianna Russini, they should give him a safety blanket in case the running game stalls or opposing pass defenses clamp down on wide receiver A.J. Brown.

Washington Redskins: Innovative Offensive-Minded Head Coach

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    Washington Redskins head coach Bill Callahan
    Washington Redskins head coach Bill CallahanQuinn Harris/Getty Images

    Bill Callahan holds the interim head coaching position following Jay Gruden's exit, and the Washington Redskins have shown some competitive life over the last few weeks, going 2-2 after a 1-9 start (Gruden was 0-5).

    Callahan has coached on the professional level for over two decades and oversaw six top-10 scoring offenses as a head coach or offensive coordinator—most recently in 2014 with the Cowboys.

    Nonetheless, the Redskins have a rookie signal-caller in Dwayne Haskins who may need a brilliant mind from the collegiate ranks to help his development on the pro level.

    Haskins started only one year at Ohio State. His jump from a program loaded with talent to the NFL, where the competition is relatively even, will come with some rough patches. To smoothen the signal-caller's transition, the hire of a skipper with a working knowledge of collegiate concepts may bode well for the 22-year-old.

    Secondly, Haskins isn't lighting up the field under Callahan, throwing for five touchdowns and three interceptions in five starts. He's averaging just 182 passing yards per start.

    Perhaps the Redskins will take a look at Baylor head coach Matt Rhule, who's generated some NFL buzz while leading his program to 16th in scoring across the nation.

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