Updated 2021 Draft Needs for Every NFL Team Through Early Free Agency

Alex Ballentine@Ballentine_AlexFeatured ColumnistMarch 20, 2021

Updated 2021 Draft Needs for Every NFL Team Through Early Free Agency

0 of 32

    David Becker/Associated Press

    The first wave of NFL free agency came and went before its official start Wednesday. When the first day of the legal tampering period ended Monday, most of the big names available had come to terms with their teams for 2021.

    A lot of teams worked on filling the holes in their rosters. The New England Patriots rebuilt practically their whole team.

    But all 32 teams still have areas where they could use new talent. Whether they are looking for an immediate contributor or a long-term solution, they'll need to rely on the draft to bolster those spots.

    Based on the biggest areas of need and factoring in what franchises have done to address them, here's the latest look at each team's needs heading toward the draft and the rest of free agency.

Arizona Cardinals

1 of 32

    Eric Christian Smith/Associated Press

    Needs: CB, TE, DT, RB

    The Arizona Cardinals expressed their intent to contend with the signing of J.J. Watt before free agency started and then brought in an aging A.J. Green. They effectively chose Watt over Haason Reddick, who was coming off a career year. Paired with re-signing Markus Golden, Arizona can wait to address the edge defender position.

    The Cardinals must work on the interior of the defense, though. Domata Peko and Corey Peters are free agents, and neither is an exciting option to bring back. Cornerback is a massive need as well. Patrick Peterson has left, and Dre Kirkpatrick could too.

    The Cardinals ranked 25th in yards allowed per carry, so the run defense is a bigger concern. Adding Watt should help, but the interior of the defense must improve as well.

    On offense, the franchise has to continue to surround Kyler Murray with weapons. DeAndre Hopkins didn't miss a beat moving to Arizona, but the Cardinals could use a playmaker at tight end. With Kenyan Drake off to Las Vegas, the Cards should be on the lookout for a new running back to pair with Chase Edmonds who should have an expanded role. 

Atlanta Falcons

2 of 32

    Brett Duke/Associated Press

    Needs: CB, S, Edge, QB

    Financial restrictions have made the Atlanta Falcons a non-player in free agency, so the needs they entered the offseason with are largely the same ones they will have come April.

    Chief among those needs is improving an abysmal pass defense. Atlanta gave up the sixth-highest quarterback rating to opposing passers and had the 10th-fewest sacks. In short, the Falcons couldn't cover and couldn't pressure the passer.

    Cornerback and edge-rushers are both expensive when acquiring them the hard way. Utilizing a first-round pick on A.J. Terrell last year was a good step forward, but the Falcons need to continue to utilize the draft to improve the secondary and pass rush.

    Listing quarterback as a need isn't an indictment of Matt Ryan's play. He played better last year than the team's 4-12 record shows, but he's 35 years old, and Atlanta can't count on picking as high as No. 4 again. The time is now to draft his replacement.

Baltimore Ravens

3 of 32

    Daniel Kucin Jr./Associated Press

    Needs: Edge, WR, S, OT

    The Ravens have done well to upgrade the offensive line for Lamar Jackson with the signing of Kevin Zeitler to a three-year deal. But they haven't done anything to improve his weaponry.

    Marquise Brown is not a prototypical No. 1 receiver. The Ravens are a run-dominant team but have asked Jackson to man the passing game without a true No. 1 receiver for too long.

    The organization has given Orlando Brown Jr. permission to seek a trade, and he intends to find a home where he can play left tackle. No one is taking that spot from Ronnie Stanley on this team, but Brown's eventual departure leaves a hole at right tackle.

    The Ravens re-signed Tyus Bowser, who will see an increased role with the departures of Matt Judon and Yannick Ngakoue. But the Ravens rely on putting pressure on the quarterbacks, so they will need to restock their collection of edge defenders through the draft.

Buffalo Bills

4 of 32

    Jeffrey T. Barnes/Associated Press

    Needs: CB, Edge, DT, TE

    The Bills haven't gone outside the organization to sign any major talent. That's a testament to the roster Brandon Beane has built in Buffalo.

    They did, however, ensure they don't create needs by bringing back Matt Milano to man the middle of the defense and offensive tackle Daryl Williams to help keep Josh Allen clean in the pocket.

    Most of these needs are for future consideration, though Beane was open about wanting to address the tight end position.

    "We just never really got that position," he told reporters last month. "At the end of the year, I thought we did a little bit. Dawson [Knox] started to get his groove. But it was never where the opposing defense was like, 'Man, we've got to stop their tight ends from going off.' So we'll look to that group."

    On defense, the Bills could use new blood on the defensive line both on the interior and the edge. A.J. Epenesa only registered one sack in his rookie season, and while there's time for him to develop, it wouldn't hurt to prepare for a future without Jerry Hughes and Mario Addison.

Carolina Panthers

5 of 32

    David Berding/Associated Press

    Needs: LB, Edge, TE, QB

    The Panthers have wisely invested money in the offensive line. They utilized the franchise tag to keep Taylor Moton around for another year and signed Pat Elflein to a three-year, $13.5 million deal. They also inked Cam Erving to a two-year deal to deal with the impending departure of Russell Okung.

    With the offensive line patched up, the Panthers can focus attention on other areas in the draft.

    One of those areas is linebacker. They haven't had a dominant presence in the middle since Luke Kuechly's retirement. Another is tight end where the position has been bleak since Greg Olsen's departure. Ian Thomas wasn't the weapon the Panthers thought he could be last season (20 catches, 145 yards).

    The team seems ready to press forward with Teddy Bridgewater. Dak Prescott never hit the market, and veterans with starting experience like Cam Newton, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Jameis Winston and Tyrod Taylor have been scooped up. The draft may be the only avenue to find a future starter.

Chicago Bears

6 of 32

    Frank Franklin II/Associated Press

    Needs: QB, OT, G/C, WR

    Adding Andy Dalton to the Bears' quarterback room might raise the floor, but it doesn't provide a long-term answer. Drafting a quarterback in the first round should still be on the table.

    Regardless of who is throwing the passes, the Bears have to do a better job of protecting him. Both Mitchell Trubisky and Nick Foles were cramped for time in the pocket last season with an average of 2.3 seconds of pocket time.

    The offensive line was a game of musical chairs. The Bears played Cody Whitehair at center and left guard, James Daniels was in and out of the lineup, and Alex Bars and Germain Ifedi both played right guard.

    The Bears need to find a long-term solution at tackle as well. After parting ways with Bobby Massie, they have one bona fide starting option in Charles Leno Jr. Bringing in potential long-term solutions across the offensive line should be a priority.

    Providing offensive weapons will be important as well. Bringing back Allen Robinson II was a huge win, but ESPN's Adam Schefter reported Anthony Miller could be on his way out via trade.

Cincinnati Bengals

7 of 32

    David Berding/Associated Press

    Needs: OT, G/C, CB, WR

    The Bengals' No. 1 priority has to be protecting Joe Burrow. The No. 1 overall pick last year took 32 sacks in 10 games. The O-line surrendered 16 more sacks after his season-ending injury, showing it was the problem and not the rookie.

    Finding offensive line help in free agency is not an easy task. Good offensive linemen are a precious commodity, and teams rarely let them get to the open market. Signing Riley Reiff was a huge find in free agency, but at 32 years old, his presence shouldn't keep Cincinnati from drafting his replacement.

    Another young wide receiver would be a welcome addition. A lot of receivers are available on the market, but Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd could use another top-end target to form a trio.

    The Bengals have addressed some needs on defense. They essentially swapped Carl Lawson for Trey Hendrickson after his breakout season in New Orleans. They also upgraded the secondary with Steelers slot cornerback Mike Hilton and Cowboys corner Chidobe Awuzie. Losing William Jackson III makes those signings less exciting, though.

Cleveland Browns

8 of 32

    Kyusung Gong/Associated Press

    Needs: Edge, LB, CB, WR

    The Browns made one of free agency's better signings in safety John Johnson III. The 25-year-old is an instant upgrade and a new member of a young core of talent. That kind of signing alters Cleveland's needs in the draft.

    There's still work to be done in improving the defense, though. Takkarist McKinley is a fine low-risk, high-reward signing on a one-year deal, but he doesn't lessen the need to draft a pass-rusher.

    Troy Hill is a great slot cornerback and another strong signing, but they still need an outside cornerback to play opposite Denzel Ward. Greedy Williams shouldn't be the only plan coming off a nerve injury.

    The linebacker corps requires more athleticism. B.J. Goodson played admirably on a one-year deal last season, but he wouldn't be able to cover Travis Kelce or Mark Andrews in a playoff game. They signed Anthony Walker to a one-year deal but he has allowed a passer rating over 100 when targeted in each of the last three seasons. 

    Offensively, the Browns don't have many needs. They have an established two-deep along the offensive line. and most of Baker Mayfield's weapons are returning. That said, they would be smart to plan ahead. Rashard Higgins' long-term status is up in the air, and the pair of Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr. will cost a lot of money to keep around.

Dallas Cowboys

9 of 32

    Michael Ainsworth/Associated Press

    Needs: CB, DT, OT, Edge

    The Cowboys' top priority this offseason was keeping quarterback off this list. They accomplished that mission with a massive contract for Dak Prescott. But plenty of positions must be addressed to create an optimal roster in 2021.

    Signing Ty Nsekhe to a one-year deal is a fine move to build depth at the tackle position. He performed well as a backup in Buffalo, but Dallas has to find an heir to Tyron Smith. The Cowboys restructured his contract to save money, but he's entering his age-31 season and will continue to be an expensive option.

    Most of the organization's needs still exist on defense. Chidobe Awuzie's exit hurts. While they were able to retain Jourdan Lewis, they'll need to find another outside corner to pair with Trevon Diggs with Lewis returning to man the slot. 

    An edge-rusher to pair with DeMarcus Lawrence and a run-stuffing presence on the inside remain needs. Aldon Smith is on the market after registering five sacks in Dallas last season. The Cowboys had the third-worst run defense with five yards allowed per carry last season.

Denver Broncos

10 of 32

    Daniel Kucin Jr./Associated Press

    Needs: CB, DT, S, LB

    The Broncos have utilized free agency to address three of these four needs, but those could still use an infusion of talent.

    Ronald Darby is the big addition from outside the organization. After a strong year in Washington, the 27-year-old is a great fit. However, the Broncos will need more to feel good about the position after cutting A.J. Bouye.

    The Broncos successfully signed Justin Simmons to a long-term deal. That ensures the safety situation won't get too dire but Will Parks and Kareem Jackson could still sign elsewhere. So they still need a safety to play alongside Simmons. Jackson will be 33 this season while Parks is not an option to get excited about so a young addition to the group would be welcome either way. 

    Shelby Harris signed a three-year deal to stay with the Broncos, but they cut Jurrell Casey. The Broncos could use reinforcements after surrendering 4.8 yards per carry.

Detroit Lions

11 of 32

    Rick Osentoski/Associated Press

    Needs: WR, CB, OT, LB

    The Detroit Lions have fully embraced rebuild mode. After trading Matthew Stafford for Jared Goff and draft picks, they've cut about as many players as they have signed.

    The biggest coup might be bringing back Romeo Okwara on a three-year deal. That keeps edge defender from being a position of need. Trading for Michael Brockers adds a veteran presence on the interior and shortens their list of draft needs.

    There are plenty of those to go around. The Lions are in desperate need of a receiver. Only three are under contract for next season, even with the signing of Tyrell Williams.

    Tackle continues to be a position to bolster. They tried to address the need with the signing of Halapoulivaati Vaitai last year, which became a disaster. He surrendered six sacks in 10 games before missing six games with a foot injury. Tyrell Crosby may be able to fill that spot, but there's no guarantee he does it well.

    On defense, cornerback and linebacker remain positions of need. Neither has been addressed in a meaningful way.

Green Bay Packers

12 of 32

    Kamil Krzaczynski/Associated Press

    Needs: WR, LB, DT, OL

    With little cash to spend, it's been quiet on the free-agency front in Green Bay. The only major move has been a new contract for running back Aaron Jones, which was surprising given the selection of AJ Dillon in last year's draft.

    Wide receiver remains an area where the Packers could stand to get better. General manager Brian Gutekunst continues to ignore it. The team appears ready to once again rely on improvement from Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Allen Lazard to support Davante Adams in the receiving corps.

    The loss of Corey Linsley complicates needs along the offensive line. Elgton Jenkins may be able to slide in at center, but they also cut Rick Wagner after one season, so Billy Turner is the only option at right tackle. Lucas Patrick was fine at right guard, but depending on Jon Runyan to step in at left guard is risky.

    The interior of the defense should be a concern. With Christian Kirksey gone, the leaders in snaps returning on the inside are Krys Barnes, Kamal Martin and Ty Summers. The guys playing in front of them on the defensive line don't inspire much confidence either.

    Dean Lowry played more snaps than any other down linemen in their base defense, and he was the 78th-graded interior defender by PFF.

Houston Texans

13 of 32

    Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

    Needs: Edge, CB, S, TE

    The Texans have arguably been the busiest team in free agency. They've cut and traded multiple players while signing lots of one- or two-year deals, turning over a huge portion of their roster.

    That's to be expected for a team that finished 4-12 last season, but none of the signings they've made should impact their needs in the draft. The Texans have to get better on defense. There's no reason a team with Deshaun Watson at quarterback should lose 12 games, and a defense that surrendered 6.2 yards per play was the main culprit.

    Replacing J.J. Watt's pass-rush production is a great place to start. They have addressed the secondary with cornerbacks Terrance Mitchell and Tavierre Thomas as well as safety Terrence Brooks.

    The linebacking corps has been remade too. They traded Benardrick McKinney for Shaq Lawson and then signed Kevin Pierre-Louis, Christian Kirksey and Kamu Grugier-Hill.

    Lawson is not enough to replace Watt. While Mitchell is a solid outside cornerback, none of those names should keep the Texans from targeting the secondary in the draft. The investment in the defense must continue.

Indianapolis Colts

14 of 32

    Zach Bolinger/Associated Press

    Needs: OT, CB, WR, Edge

    With a ton of cap space to spend and a roster close to contending in the AFC, the Colts have been surprisingly quiet. Outside of the massive trade for Carson Wentz, Frank Reich's team hasn't done much other than bring back Marlon Mack on a one-year deal.

    That isn't because there aren't needs to fill. The Wentz reclamation project will require giving him weapons he feels comfortable with. T.Y. Hilton could leave, and while useful receivers are still available on the market, the Colts haven't signed any of them.

    Protecting Wentz will be essential too. After Anthony Castonzo's retirement, finding a blindside protector is crucial to restoring Wentz's confidence, and that guy isn't likely to be found in free agency.

    Edge defender continues to be a potential draft target. Denico Autry signed with division rival Tennessee, and Justin Houston could depart too. They combined for 15.5 sacks last season.

    The proven pass-rushers on the market have been spoken for, so the Colts have some work to do in the draft.

Jacksonville Jaguars

15 of 32

    Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

    Needs: QB, Edge, S, TE

    Urban Meyer has wasted no time in putting his stamp on the Jaguars roster in free agency. The front office in Jacksonville has been one of the biggest spenders, and many of these needs have been touched upon, but the draft remains their best friend in their rebuilding endeavors.

    Quarterback is the obvious need that will be addressed in the draft. Meyer should have Trevor Lawrence on speed dial. The Jags have done a lot on offense to give their future quarterback a chance to succeed. Signing veteran receivers Marvin Jones Jr. and Phillip Dorsett is a shrewd move, while Carlos Hyde adds experience and a short-yardage back behind James Robinson.

    What they don't have is a tight end who can make plays and serve as a safety valve.

    Cornerback Shaquill Griffin is the biggest signing in the class. He alleviates the need to draft a cornerback to start opposite CJ Henderson. That should allow the Jaguars to focus on finding safety help in the secondary. 

    The acquisition of Rayshawn Jenkins should help as he can play in the slot or cover the deep middle, but finding a complementary piece to develop alongside him would complete the secondary.  

    Ditto for the interior of the defensive line. That's been the biggest emphasis in free agency as they added Roy Robertson-Harris and Tyson Alualu and traded for Malcom Brown. That will allow them to utilize draft capital to add to the outside pass rush.

Kansas City Chiefs

16 of 32

    Reed Hoffmann/Associated Press

    Needs: OT, Edge, LB, WR

    It's been an offseason of trade-offs for the defending AFC champions. The Chiefs bid adieu to both of their starting tackles to clear cap space and then signed one of the best guards in the game in Joe Thuney and a three-time Pro Bowler in Kyle Long.

    That leaves massive holes at both tackle spots going into the draft. They might find a decent replacement in free agency, but you don't want a decent tackle to protect your investment in Patrick Mahomes. Even if the Chiefs address the immediate need, they need to bring in a young tackle who can be dominant.

    A young pass-rusher to pair with Frank Clark would be an important addition. The team re-signed Taco Charlton to a one-year deal, but he only had six pressures in seven games. That's not going to get it done when Chris Jones is taking attention from offensive lines on the interior.

    Linebacker remains a need. Willie Gay showed signs of stepping into the role as a full-time starter last season, but they don't have any exciting options outside of the second-year player.

    It feels weird putting receiver down as a need for a team with as much firepower as the Chiefs, but Sammy Watkins and Demarcus Robinson are both on the market. Tyreek Hill and Mecole Hardman are the only major contributors set to come back.

Las Vegas Raiders

17 of 32

    Jack Dempsey/Associated Press

    Needs: G/C, WR, OT, S

    The Raiders managed to create a need they didn't have. Mike Mayock has blown up an offensive line devastated by injuries last season. They traded Trent Brown to the Patriots, dealt Rodney Hudson to Arizona and traded Gabe Jackson to Seattle.

    They re-signed Denzelle Good and will bring back Richie Incognito. Neither of those moves should keep them from investing in the line through the draft. Good hasn't proven he can be a consistent starter and Incognito will be 38 years old. 

    Kolton Miller improved at left tackle last season, but they could use an upgrade at right tackle as well. The Raiders need to draft multiple offensive linemen early.

    Defensively, it's easier to like what they've done. Yannick Ngakoue and Quinton Jefferson bolster the defensive line, which won't be a pressing need come draft time. Bringing back Nicholas Morrow and Johnathan Hankins provides depth at linebacker and defensive tackle, respectively.

    They can focus their draft capital on the secondary where it would help to find the eventual replacement for Jeff Heath and add another young corner.

Los Angeles Chargers

18 of 32

    Michael Conroy/Associated Press

    Needs: OT, Edge, G/C, CB

    Protect Justin Herbert at all costs. That has to be priority No. 1, and the Chargers have done that by signing Cory Linsley away from the Green Bay Packers and getting Steelers utility lineman Matt Feiler.

    Both should bolster the inside of the line, but there's still work to do. The Chargers need to find a bona fide left tackle prospect and an eventual replacement for Bryan Bulaga. The former Packers lineman turns 32 years old this month and was the 64th-graded tackle by PFF last season.

    A Melvin Ingram III replacement to pair with Joey Bosa should be a high priority too. Despite having a prodigious talent like Bosa coming off the edge, the Chargers ranked 14th in pressure percentage.

    In today's game, protecting your quarterback and getting after the other team's passer are the keys to success. L.A. has to get better at both.

Los Angeles Rams

19 of 32

    Kyusung Gong/Associated Press

    Needs: LB, Edge, OT, S

    The Rams are all-in on Matthew Stafford over the next few seasons after trading for him. However, budget restrictions have kept them from making many big moves beyond that.

    The Stafford move makes sense since the Rams are in a position to contend. Their needs are mostly of the "it would be nice to have" variety. For instance, another threat across from Leonard Floyd—who they re-signed to a four-year deal—and Aaron Donald would be nice, but the pass rush will be nasty without it.

    Linebacker was a need last season after Cory Littleton left, and it remains a need. Micah Kiser and Kenny Young don't inspire much confidence. John Johnson's loss will be felt as a safety who supported the linebackers. He played 100 percent of the defensive snaps last year and made over 100 tackles.

    Offensive line continues to be a need as well. One day, 39-year-old Andrew Whitworth will have to retire, and the Rams will need a backup plan. Austin Blythe will likely be out of their price range, so a center could be in play in the middle rounds.

Miami Dolphins

20 of 32

    Phelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press

    Needs: OT, Edge, WR, G/C

    The Dolphins are at a crucial stage in the Tua Tagovailoa era. With Ryan Fitzpatrick off to Washington, they are committed to the lefty as the starting quarterback. They have to find out what they have by giving him every chance to succeed.

    Jacoby Brissett gives them a high-quality backup, but this is Tagovailoa's team.

    That starts with protecting him and giving him weapons. They've lost veteran center Ted Karras while acquiring a project from Tennessee in Isaiah Wilson. That's a need created and a potential solution at tackle that shouldn't be counted on.

    The Dolphins have a dilemma with the third pick. Will Fuller V comes with injury risk and a PED suspension. They could justify drafting a receiver at No. 3. They could also create a dynamic duo at the two tackle spots with Penei Sewell and Austin Jackson.

    They'll need to address edge-rusher as well. They traded Shaq Lawson and cut Kyle Van Noy.

Minnesota Vikings

21 of 32

    Corey Sipkin/Associated Press

    Needs: G/C, OT, S, Edge

    The Minnesota Vikings have addressed two of their biggest needs on the defensive side of the ball with free-agent signings. Dalvin Tomlinson should team up with Michael Pierce to massively upgrade the interior of the line. Patrick Peterson will bring experience and leadership to a young group of cornerbacks.

    Cutting Riley Reiff made sense financially, but it left a large hole at left tackle. Ezra Cleveland may slide over, but his play at right guard doesn't make that a great move; he gave up five sacks, per Pro Football Focus.

    Moving him would create a need for two guards, though, as Minnesota needs a new left guard as well. The combination of Dakota Dozier (six sacks allowed) and Dru Samia (three sacks allowed) were dreadful. 

    Anthony Harris still hasn't found a home but is also not on the Vikings roster, so we can assume safety is a position of need. Harris was a lynchpin of the secondary, playing 100 percent of snaps last season.

    The pass-rush was anemic without Danielle Hunter in 2020. And though he should return to form after surgery for a herniated disk, the signing of Stephen Weatherly on a one-year deal wasn't enough to scratch edge-rusher from the list of needs.

New England Patriots

22 of 32

    Rich Schultz/Associated Press

    Needs: QB, LB, DT, S

    The New England Patriots are the most fascinating team in free agency. After their longtime frugal approach to the market, they have cracked open the checkbook.

    Cam Newton is back on a one-year deal, but that didn't take quarterback off the list of needs. He has a much better chance to succeed with the weapons they've acquired, but Newton hasn't done enough with New England for it to say he's the answer.

    You won't find the offensive line on the list. The Pats have ensured they will continue to have one of the best in football, signing Ted Karras to play center and trading for Trent Brown to give them proven options at all five spots.

    On defense, there are still holes to fill. Matt Judon and Kyle Van Noy should be productive coming off the edge, but linebacker is a question mark. Dont'a Hightower may return after opting out in 2020, but he's 31 years old—and there's little depth behind him.

    Davon Godchaux and Henry Anderson are solid starting options on the interior, but the loss of Adam Butler and likely departure of Beau Allen mean New England is at square one when it comes to building depth.

    The Pats will need to get younger at safety. Signing 26-year-old Jalen Mills is a step in the right direction but they will still lean heavily on 33-year-old Devin McCourty at free safety. 

New Orleans Saints

23 of 32

    Rich Schultz/Associated Press

    Needs: WR, LB, CB, Edge

    The great cap shed of 2021 and the retirement of Drew Bress left the New Orleans Saints with plenty of needs to address.

    For now, quarterback isn't on the list. We should all be so lucky as to find someone who loves us as much as Sean Payton loves Taysom Hill, and Payton also expressed excitement about Jameis Winston's re-signing.

    "There'll be a few calls we make, but our goal coming into this offseason was to obviously re-sign Jameis," Payton told Dan Patrick on The Dan Patrick Show. "Taysom played for us in four games last year. And let those guys go to work. I'm excited about it."

    Instead, the Saints are likely to focus on recouping some of their losses. Emmanuel Sanders is gone, so the receiving corps needs options outside of Michael Thomas.

    On defense, New Orleans cut Kwon Alexander, leaving a hole beside Demario Davis in the linebacker corps. Janoris Jenkins is gone too, putting a cornerback at the top of the wish list as well. Trey Hendrickson and his 13.5 sacks from last season are off to Cincinnati, so that could be a draft target.

New York Giants

24 of 32

    Adam Hunger/Associated Press

    Needs: G/C, WR, Edge, CB

    The New York Giants were in the unenviable position of having too little cap space to keep key free agents in areas that were already weak.

    Kevin Zeitler was a steady piece on a shaky offensive line but was cut to make cap room. The combination of Dalvin Tomlinson and Leonard Williams on the interior of the defensive line was one of the Giants' strengths last season, but they were only able to keep Williams.

    Last year's big free-agency acquisition was James Bradberry, but the Giants still haven't found someone to play across from him.

    Golden Tate also got the axe, which didn't do much to solve their need for a receiver. The speedy John Ross is nothing more than a flier, as he never surpassed 28 catches or 506 yards in four seasons with the Bengals.

    Those were areas that needed improvement before the cuts. They are even more pronounced now.

New York Jets

25 of 32

    Ben Margot/Associated Press

    Needs: QB, WR, Edge, CB

    The New York Jets are another example of a team that has done well in free agency, but that hasn't changed their needs heading into the draft. That's a result of having a roster that went 2-14.

    Sam Darnold may just be the product of a bad environment and having few chances to succeed. Even it that's so, by the time he gets things figured out, he won't be on a rookie contract anymore. The Jets need a reset on that timeline.

    Adding Corey Davis in free agency was a big step in the right direction. He had a breakout year in his final season with the Tennessee Titans and brings more productivity than anyone in the receiving corps last year.

    That doesn't mean the Jets should be done adding weapons, though. Denzel Mims caught just over 50 percent of his targets and has a lot to prove in Year 2. Another young, talented pass-catcher would give Darnold or a new quarterback the best chance to succeed.

    On defense, a key area is the edge. Carl Lawson was a huge addition, but it takes multiple pass-rushers to create an elite defense, and New York doesn't have anyone exciting outside of Lawson.

Philadelphia Eagles

26 of 32

    Michael Ainsworth/Associated Press

    Needs: WR, QB, CB, LB

    The Philadelphia Eagles are one of the teams that have been hit hardest by the depressed salary cap, so the draft will be their primary means to address holes.

    Their offseason has been marked more by departures than additions. After the huge Carson Wentz trade, the Eagles have also parted ways with DeSean Jackson, Alshon Jeffery and Malik Jackson.

    So not only do the Eagles have to determine if Jalen Hurts is their quarterback, they also have to try to find weapons on a budget. Jalen Reagor and Travis Fulgham have potential but are unproven.

    On defense, the losses of Jackson and Treyvon Hester hurt the depth on the interior, but the line is the least of their worries. Philadelphia still doesn't have a reliable outside cornerback outside of Darius Slay and the likely departure of free agent Nickell Robey-Coleman will only compound that problem.

    Linebacker continues to be a need. The Eagles haven't been forced to make cuts there, but they also don't have the money to sign a difference-maker.

Pittsburgh Steelers

27 of 32

    Keith Srakocic/Associated Press

    Needs: CB, OT, G/C, RB

    The cash-strapped Pittsburgh Steelers made two smart moves that helped with some of their needs. They brought back Cameron Sutton and Zach Banner.

    Those moves are likely to fly under the radar with the re-signing of JuJu Smith-Schuster and loss of Mike Hilton; Alejandro Villanueva and James Conner are still on the market too. But Sutton's return eased the loss of Hilton, while Banner provides a developmental tackle option.

    That still doesn't erase the need to add one through the draft. Banner has logged only 302 snaps in three seasons. Chukwuma Okorafor, the other tackle who could start, was ranked 70th of 79 tackles graded by PFF last season.

    Pittsburgh has to make improvements along the offensive line and in running back room as it transitions to a post-Ben Roethlisberger world. The ground game averaged an NFL-worst 3.6 yards per carry on just 373 totes.

    Bringing balance to the offense is going to be important, and the Steelers haven't done that in free agency.

San Francisco 49ers

28 of 32

    Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

    Needs: S, Edge, WR, CB

    The San Francisco 49ers have had a nice offseason. They brought back Trent Williams on a massive, market-setting contract to erase the need for a left tackle. Jason Verrett's and Emmanuel Moseley's returns prevented the secondary from needing a complete rebuild.

    Safety stands out as an area that could be a liability. Jaquiski Tartt still hasn't found a team. His departure would leave the Niners with Tarvarius Moore, Marcell Harris and Jimmie Ward.

    They could still use a slot corner and depth at the position in general, but it isn't the pressing need it would have been. Until K'Waun Williams signs elsewhere, this need could still be addressed in free agency.

    Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk are the future of the receiver position, but losing Kendrick Bourne to New England left them without a clear No. 3.

    Employing Dee Ford opposite Nick Bosa is expensive. Signing Samson Ebukam, who has nine sacks in his last two seasons, further built San Francisco's depth, but you can never have too many pass-rushers.

Seattle Seahawks

29 of 32

    David Richard/Associated Press

    Needs: Edge, DT, OT, G/C

    Russell Wilson appears to be staying with the Seattle Seahawks after a bizarre non-trade request in which his agent listed the other teams he would be willing to play for. That puts the focus of the Seahawks' offseason back on rebuilding the trenches.

    Jamal Adams' ability as a blitzer covered for the fact the Seahawks didn't have an edge-rusher with more than six sacks last season.

    Jarran Reed provided some help on the interior, but there isn't much depth around him.

    On the offensive line, there's plenty of room for improvement even after the Hawks traded for Gabe Jackson from the Las Vegas Raiders and center Ethan Pocic re-signed. On the outside, Duane Brown is 35 years old, and Brandon Shell is just average.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

30 of 32

    Kevin Sabitus/Associated Press

    Needs: DT, OT, CB, RB

    The defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers did a tremendous job of bringing back all their core pieces. They avoided having Lavonte David, Chris Godwin and Shaquil Barrett hit free agency, leaving Antonio Brown, Leonard Fournette and Ndamukong Suh to worry about.

    Those are ancillary needs, as none were long-term pieces. The Bucs would do well to make sure they have strong options against the run on the inside if they can't bring back Suh.

    The secondary could use some upgrades as well. Jamel Dean had an excellent season, but there should be competition for the spots manned by Carlton Davis and Sean Murphy-Bunting.

    On offense, it's all about a running game to support Tom Brady and Co. An eventual replacement for Donovan Smith at left or right tackle (depending on what they do with Tristan Wirfs) would be ideal.

    If Fournette finds a new home, Tampa Bay would do well to add a running back into the mix with Ronald Jones II and Ke'Shawn Vaughn.

Tennessee Titans

31 of 32

    Matt Patterson/Associated Press

    Needs: OT, DT, TE, WR

    Trading Isaiah Wilson was an understandable move but an acknowledge of a huge mistake in the Tennessee Titans' quest to replace Jack Conklin. The same could be said for cutting Dennis Kelly.

    The Titans are taking a shot with former Browns swing tackle Kendall Lamm to fill that spot, but it still warrants a strong look in the draft.

    Bud Dupree was a good signing to bulk up a pass rush that was abysmal last season. Denico Autry will help with that too, but Tennessee could still use a nose tackle to anchor its base 3-4 look.

    The biggest blows came in the departures of Jonnu Smith and Corey Davis, though. Anthony Firkser is an intriguing option at tight end, but the Titans still have to replace 106 catches, 1,432 yards and 13 touchdowns from Smith and Davis.

Washington Football Team

32 of 32

    Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press

    Needs: QB, WR, OT, LB

    Ryan Fitzpatrick was a great signing to play the same role he played for Miami last season. He'll be the one-year bridge quarterback while the Washington Football Team gives a rookie a year to get ready.

    Outside of that, it will need to do everything it can to put a supporting cast around the signal-caller. That means beefing up the protection. The team franchise-tagged Brandon Scherff for the second year but will need to upgrade the left tackle spot.

    Signing Curtis Samuel was a great move too. He'll be a good complement to Terry McLaurin and is still getting better. But it's going to take more than just McLaurin and Samuel. Pro Football Focus noted the receiving grades for Washington wide receivers and tight ends were the lowest in the league.

    Ron Rivera's defense is set up to compete at a high level. And William Jackson III fortified that already strong unit. However, the team could use better linebacker play behind a great defensive line.


    Salary information via Spotrac. Reported moves via the NFL's free-agency tracker unless otherwise noted. 


The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.