Every NFL Team's Biggest Need This Late in Free Agency

Brad Gagnon@Brad_Gagnon NFL National ColumnistMarch 26, 2021

Every NFL Team's Biggest Need This Late in Free Agency

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    Ashley Landis/Associated Press

    The meat is off the NFL free-agency bone.

    It's slim pickings if you're looking for a game-changer, but hundreds of veteran players remain available on the open market, and many will be picked up—some before the draft, some after teams walk away from that event with a clearer picture of their needs.

    With that in mind, on the brink of the next wave of free agency, let's check in on each team from a top-need perspective.

Arizona Cardinals: Secondary

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    Bill Kostroun/Associated Press

    The Patrick Peterson era is over for the Arizona Cardinals after the eight-time Pro Bowl cornerback signed with the Minnesota Vikings early in free agency. Dre Kirkpatrick and Johnathan Joseph remain unsigned, and both are well into their 30s anyway.

    That leaves Arizona in desperate need of at least one starting-caliber player to team with 2019 second-round pick Byron Murphy and aging newbie Malcolm Butler at that critical position.

    The offense is set, and the defensive front will be shored up as J.J. Watt joins Chandler Jones in his return from a biceps injury. But the Cards defensive backfield is wide-open aside from presumed starting roles for Murphy in the slot (unless they move him outside again), Butler and standout Budda Baker at strong safety.

    The good news is discounts might soon be up for grabs for veterans like A.J. Bouye, Casey Hayward Jr., Steven Nelson and Bashaud Breeland at corner or Tre Boston or Malik Hooker at safety. 

Atlanta Falcons: Interior Offensive Line

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    Jeff Haynes/Associated Press

    Arguments could be made that the Atlanta Falcons need to prioritize the secondary in light of the loss of Keanu Neal, or even the defensive edge considering they hardly addressed that area after recording just 29 sacks in 2020.

    But Atlanta is all-in on what might be one last shot with highly paid quarterback-receiver duo Matt Ryan and Julio Jones in 2021. It's imperative that the offensive line is fit enough to give the 35-year-old Ryan time and keep him upright.

    That wasn't easy even with reliable veteran Alex Mack at center in 2020 as the Falcons surrendered 41 sacks. But now Mack is gone, and they haven't re-signed 32-year-old incumbent starting left guard James Carpenter, leaving holes at guard and center that will need to be addressed.

    Some of that help could come in-house (they used a third-round pick on Matt Hennessy last year), but they should remain in touch with veteran free-agent interior O-linemen Austin Reiter, Trai Turner and Nick Easton.

Baltimore Ravens: The Edge

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    Brett Carlsen/Associated Press

    The Baltimore Ravens said goodbye to their top two free-agent edge defenders, Matt Judon and Yannick Ngakoue.

    While they still have a multitude of bodies who can rush the passer, Pernell McPhee is 32 and hasn't had a five-sack season since he was 27, Derek Wolfe is 31 and coming off a one-sack campaign, Tyus Bowser has been held to three or fewer sacks in three of his four NFL seasons, and Calais Campbell has slowed ahead of his age-35 campaign.

    Last year's pass-rushing unit ranked in the middle of the pack in sacks and adjusted sack rate, leaving Baltimore with lots of work to do sans Judon and Ngakoue.

    Unfortunately, elite edges don't often linger on the free-agent market this deep into March. But this is a weird offseason, and you wonder if the Ravens might place a call to someone like Jadeveon Clowney, Justin Houston, Melvin Ingram III or Ryan Kerrigan.

Buffalo Bills: The Edge

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    Jeffrey T. Barnes/Associated Press

    The Ravens and Buffalo Bills are in similar boats. Both made the playoffs last year despite so-so results from their pass-rushing groups, and both haven't upgraded those units this offseason.

    Buffalo hasn't lost key cogs like Baltimore, but it has yet to re-sign 30-year-old Trent Murphy following a disappointing campaign, and there's no obvious competition in place for 32-year-old Jerry Hughes or 33-year-old Mario Addison.

    Hughes has amassed nine total sacks and 20 quarterback hits in 31 starts the last two seasons, while Addison sadly tied for the team lead with five sacks in 2020.

    It's a consideration for early in the draft, but vets like Clowney, Houston, Ingram and Kerrigan should be on the Bills' radar. Considering the age of their edge defenders, they might also want to consider a flier on a younger lingering free-agent pass-rusher like DeMarcus Walker or Tanoh Kpassagnon.

Carolina Panthers: Secondary

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    Matthew Hinton/Associated Press

    The quarterback position may be the elephant on the Carolina Panthers depth chart, but the existence of the efficient, well-paid Teddy Bridgewater prevents that from being the top need for a team that won five games in 2020.

    Instead, a defense that surrendered a 98.4 passer rating while intercepting just seven passes last season has become the most pressing weak spot.

    At corner, veteran Rasul Douglas remains unsigned after performing well down the stretch in his debut season with the team, and Carolina doesn't have much else beyond 2018 second-round pick Donte Jackson. Meanwhile, at safety, Jeremy Chinn flashed as a rookie in the box, but veteran Tre Boston regressed and remains a free agent as well.

    Yet the Panthers have been quiet at these two positions, only signing 31-year-old corner Rashaan Melvin, who struggled with the Detroit Lions in 2019 and was a COVID-19 opt-out in 2020. Carolina should consider Bouye, Hayward, Nelson and Breeland.

Chicago Bears: Secondary

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    Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press

    What's the use of pointing out the Chicago Bears' quarterback problem? With Andy Dalton joining Nick Foles on the roster, they're not going to sign another one anytime soon. Instead, let's look at a cornerback group that is in rough shape following two-time Pro Bowler Kyle Fuller's release.

    For now, they've replaced Fuller with 30-year-old Desmond Trufant, who has missed 17 games the last two seasons with Atlanta and Detroit and has surrendered a triple-digit passer rating into his coverage in both of those campaigns.

    The Bears are banking on a strong sophomore season from 2020 second-round pick Jaylon Johnson, who flashed as a rookie but still gave up five touchdowns and a 107.5 rating in coverage. They've also yet to re-sign soon-to-be 32-year-old slot specialist Buster Skrine after an abysmal 2020 campaign.

    Safety is less of a concern because Eddie Jackson is a top-of-the-line player and they've re-signed Deon Bush, but vet Tashaun Gipson Sr. remains on the open market after a strong age-30 season in Chicago.

    There's plenty of work to do.

Cincinnati Bengals: Interior Offensive Line

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    Keith Srakocic/Associated Press

    I didn't phone this one in. I performed a deep dive on the Cincinnati Bengals depth chart to find an alternative to the obvious, but the Bengals have done a nice job of building up their defensive front and their secondary. You could argue the linebacking corps remains a large need, but that's less critical than an offensive line that was a mess in 2020.

    That unit will have to be a lot better in quarterback Joe Burrow's second season. While there's reason to be somewhat confident in bookend tackles Jonah Williams and Riley Reiff, the Bengals have not done anything to address the guard and center positions.

    A revolving door that featured Trey Hopkins, Billy Price, Alex Redmond, Michael Jordan, Xavier Su'a-Filo and Quinton Spain was tremendously problematic, and the status quo remains.

    Reiter, Turner, Easton, Senio Kelemete, Zach Fulton and Austin Blythe should all be pursued as potential upgrades.

Cleveland Browns: Linebacker

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    Ron Schwane/Associated Press

    A lack of range and talent at linebacker was the Cleveland Browns' most glaring issue for much of their breakout 2020 season. That remains the case after an initial run through free agency in which Cleveland added John Johnson III and Troy Hill to the secondary and gave Myles Garrett a high-potential pass-rushing partner in Takkarist McKinley.

    The Browns haven't ignored the linebacker spot. They brought in Anthony Walker, who excelled as a tackle-happy starter the last three years with the Indianapolis Colts. But Walker isn't necessarily a large upgrade over incumbent starting middle linebacker (and free agent) B.J. Goodson, who is a better run defender and more reliable tackler.

    Beyond that, there isn't much to get excited about with Sione Takitaki, Mack Wilson, Malcolm Smith and Jacob Phillips.

    Lingering off-ball free agents like Nicholas Morrow and Eric Wilson should intrigue Browns general manager Andrew Berry.

Dallas Cowboys: Cornerback

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    LM Otero/Associated Press

    Want to argue that center or the pass rush are larger areas of need for the Dallas Cowboys? I won't fight you, but cornerback stands out more for Dallas, which has lost its top player at that position in back-to-back offseasons (Byron Jones in 2020, Chidobe Awuzie in 2021).

    On the edge, they have DeMarcus Lawrence. At center, there's some hope 2020 fourth-round pick Tyler Biadasz could emerge. And we're not even calling out the secondary after they signed thumper Keanu Neal to work with Donovan Wilson at safety.

    But corner? The jury is out on sophomore second-rounder Trevon Diggs, veteran Anthony Brown has not been a reliable presence and re-signed free agent Jourdan Lewis might be limited to the slot.

    They need another proven commodity, and Bouye, Hayward, Nelson and Breeland should all be in the mix.

Denver Broncos: Quarterback

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    Jack Dempsey/Associated Press

    The improving Denver Broncos look surprisingly solid across the board after a five-win campaign, but their starting quarterback completed a league-low 57.3 percent of his passes in 2020 and remains a tremendous liability.

    Drew Lock was the league's lowest-rated passer on deep attempts as a sophomore, and it appears the Broncos realize they must at least bring in competition at the sport's most important position.

    General manager George Paton said last week:

    "We've evaluated all the quarterbacks. We like Drew Lock. We have a plan in place and there's free agency, there's the draft, there's trades, there's a lot of ways to acquire a quarterback. Fortunately, we have a quarterback here, and we have a nice quarterback room. We do want to bring in competition. We are not going to force it."

    The question is whether they do that via the draft (where they hold the No. 9 overall pick) or the trade market (where Russell Wilson, Deshaun Watson, Sam Darnold, Jimmy Garoppolo and Derek Carr could be had).

Detroit Lions: Secondary

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    Brian Westerholt/Associated Press

    A lot of defensive backfields need talent, and the Detroit Lions secondary is no exception.

    They've given up on Justin Coleman and moved on from Desmond Trufant at corner, and they've yet to re-sign Duron Harmon at safety. That puts a ton of pressure on 2020 No. 3 overall pick Jeff Okudah and returning safeties Tracy Walker and Will Harris, all of whom disappointed to various degrees last season.

    Even if Okudah can take off and one or both of those safeties can bounce back, the Lions will need far more stability and experience at those positions, especially in the NFC North.

    While that'll likely be a draft focus for a cap-strapped organization with the No. 7 overall pick, you'd expect Detroit to be in on Bouye, Hayward, Nelson and Breeland.

Green Bay Packers: Offensive Line

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    Morry Gash/Associated Press

    It feels weird listing the offensive line as the Green Bay Packers' top need because that unit has been a strength for so long. But the Packers will only go as far as quarterback Aaron Rodgers takes them, and it's imperative that the line keeps him upright.

    That could become more of a challenge considering longtime center Corey Linsley and right tackle Rick Wagner are both gone, while All-Pro left tackle David Bakhtiari is coming off a serious knee injury on the brink of 30.

    That'll put a lot more pressure on Elgton Jenkins and Billy Turner, and the Packers don't have many intriguing in-house options beyond that. The jury is still out on sophomore sixth-round selection Jon Runyan, and spot starter Lucas Patrick's career could go either way.

    It's unlikely it all pans out for Bakhtiari, Jenkins, Turner, Runyan and Patrick, which means Green Bay must add insurance. A lot of quality O-linemen are out there, from the highly accomplished Mitchell Schwartz, Eric Fisher and Alejandro Villanueva to the underrated Austin Reiter to guys with room to grow like Forrest Lamp and Julie'n Davenport.

Houston Texans: The Defensive Front

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    Eric Christian Smith/Associated Press

    Quarterback Deshaun Watson's uncertain future with the Houston Texans means the team's priorities could change in an instant. But Watson remains in the QB1 spot on the depth chart. Instead, let's focus on a defensive front that will no longer feature J.J. Watt in 2021.

    While Houston has plenty of solid options in the secondary, along the offensive line and at the skill positions on offense, the front seven is riddled with question marks beyond vets Zach Cunningham, Whitney Mercilus and incoming pass-rusher Shaq Lawson.

    Is anyone in Houston excited about Kamu Grugier-Hill, Christian Kirksey or Kevin Pierre-Louis? What about Maliek Collins? Young defensive linemen Charles Omenihu and Ross Blacklock have yet to inspire much confidence, but Omenihu is likely to battle P.J. Hall for a significant role.

    Throw in that Lawson has yet to live up to expectations in his career and Mercilus appears to be declining on the wrong side of 30, and it's easy to see how Houston could have one of the softest defensive fronts in the NFL.

Indianapolis Colts: Left Tackle

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    Zach Bolinger/Associated Press

    It's either left tackle or the pass rush for the Indianapolis Colts. I'm rolling with the former for the following reasons:

    1. It's easier to find pass-rushing help than a quality starting offensive tackle.

    2. Indy gets natural pressure inside from superstar defensive tackle DeForest Buckner.

    3. While longtime starting left tackle Anthony Castonzo has retired, reigning starter Justin Houston remains available to be re-signed on the free-agent pass-rusher market.

    4. There's still a chance for 2018 second-round picks Tyquan Lewis and Kemoko Turay on the edge.

    5. Sam Tevi (signed Wednesday) and Le'Raven Clark and Chaz Green (who have yet to be re-signed) are not quality replacement options on Carson Wentz's blind side.

    The Colts rank second in cap space, according to Spotrac. Failing to bring in Eric Fisher, Russell Okung or Alejandro Villanueva would be silly.

Jacksonville Jaguars: Free Safety

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    Michael Conroy/Associated Press

    It would also be silly to list quarterback for the Jacksonville Jaguars, who will certainly use the No. 1 overall pick in April's draft to secure their next franchise signal-caller. We'll target the safety position, which has been a weakness in Jacksonville since the days of Tashaun Gipson Sr. and Barry Church.

    They did bolster the secondary by adding Shaquill Griffin and re-signing Sidney Jones in support of CJ Henderson at corner. They also signed Rayshawn Jenkins at strong safety. But they still need a quality player to pair with Jenkins.

    Jenkins essentially replaces free agent Josh Jones, and it's hard to get fired up about undrafted 27-year-old Jarrod Wilson or undrafted 24-year-old Andrew Wingard.

    Jacksonville may wait for the draft to add another potential starter at that position, especially because the free-agent safety market is watered down. But if the Jags decide to shop for a second-stage free-agency discount, they could call Malik Hooker, Tre Boston or Damarious Randall.

Kansas City Chiefs: Offensive Line

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    Ed Zurga/Associated Press

    It's startling how easy it's become to identify soft spots on the Kansas City Chiefs roster.

    Cornerback becomes a concern if they don't bring back or replace Bashaud Breeland. Linebacker has always been a weakness and becomes weaker if they don't retain or replace Damien Wilson. And the edge will become shallow if both Tanoh Kpassagnon and Alex Okafor don't return. But the offensive tackle spots are even more critical, and Mike Remmers and Martinas Rankin are the only two options in those slots.

    Both would represent tremendous downgrades from Eric Fisher and Mitchell Schwartz, who became cap casualties earlier this month. It's possible both Fisher and Schwartz will return, but both are in their 30s and coming off significant injuries, and starting center Austin Reiter remains unsigned as well.

    Even though vets Joe Thuney and Kyle Long are joining the fray (presumably at guard), the line is the biggest need for KC.

Las Vegas Raiders: Offensive Line

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    Steve Marcus/Associated Press

    For the Las Vegas Raiders, this is a tie between the secondary and the offensive line.

    The Raiders need a new slot cover man to replace Lamarcus Joyner and a new free safety to replace Erik Harris, but they also need a new right tackle to replace Trent Brown, a new center to replace Rodney Hudson and a new guard to replace Gabe Jackson.

    They may have more in-house depth along the line, but Brown, Hudson and Jackson were rocks often considered the cream of the crop at their respective positions. They'll be OK with Richie Incognito and Denzelle Good at guard, but even if newbie Nick Martin can step in well for Hudson, the tackle job has no satisfying options.

    They should be all over Mitchell Schwartz and Rick Wagner.

Los Angeles Chargers: Left Tackle

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    Peter Joneleit/Associated Press

    Kudos to the Los Angeles Chargers for making an effort to bolster support for reigning Offensive Rookie of the Year quarterback Justin Herbert. But while new starting offensive linemen Corey Linsley and Matt Feiler should help immensely, the Bolts still have a glaring opening opposite Bryan Bulaga at the offensive tackle position.

    That edges out cornerback (where they lost Casey Hayward Jr. but re-signed Michael Davis and still have Chris Harris Jr.) and the pass rush (where they'll likely lose Melvin Ingram III but still have Joey Bosa and Uchenna Nwosu).

    That weakness became more pronounced when Sam Tevi departed on the free-agent market after serving as the team's primary starting left tackle in 2020. They're left with disappointing 2019 third-round pick Trey Pipkins.

    While it's possible they'll look to take advantage of an intriguing tackle class in next month's draft, there's no reason not to kick tires belonging to veteran free agents like Eric Fisher, Alejandro Villanueva and former Charger Russell Okung, before or after the draft.

Los Angeles Rams: Secondary

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    Michael Conroy/Associated Press

    The perpetually cap-strapped Los Angeles Rams need offensive line help, especially if they don't retain free-agent center Austin Blythe. They need help on the edge, they need more talent in the off-ball linebacker spots and they need to replace both John Johnson III and Troy Hill in the secondary.

    In other words, the roster is in a state of decay.

    But because Blythe could still return and Brian Allen is on the roster, because they have Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald to compensate for a lack of pass-rushing chops on the edge, and because they got by at linebacker mainly with Micah Kiser, Kenny Young and Troy Reeder last year, we'll call out a defensive backfield that is hurting following the departures of Johnson and Hill.

    It's nice to have Jalen Ramsey, Darious Williams and Taylor Rapp, but there's no telling who'll man the other safety spot alongside Rapp and who'll take on primary slot coverage duties in 2021.

    With no draft picks until the bottom half of the second round, they'll want to keep tabs on guys like Mackensie Alexander, Buster Skrine, Malik Hooker and Tre Boston on the open market.

Miami Dolphins: The Edge

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    Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press

    It's amazing how quickly the Miami Dolphins have become a team of few glaring needs, but they downgraded their pass rush by trading Shaq Lawson for off-ball presence Benardrick McKinney and cutting Kyle Van Noy.

    They could use alternatives to Emmanuel Ogbah and Andrew Van Ginkel on the edge.

    The potential emergence of 2019 first-round pick Christian Wilkins could help, but he's not a prototypical edge-rusher. Ditto for Jerome Baker despite his seven sacks in 2020.

    The good news is they're loaded with draft capital, and plenty of free-agent edge defenders are lingering on the open market. They should monitor Jadeveon Clowney, Justin Houston, Ryan Kerrigan, Melvin Ingram III, Carlos Dunlap and Aldon Smith.

Minnesota Vikings: The Left Side of the Offensive Line

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    Jason Behnken/Associated Press

    Dakota Dozier struggled at left guard for the 2020 Minnesota Vikings and is a free agent, while longtime left tackle Riley Reiff has departed as well. That leaves an already-poor offensive line in desperate need of fresh talent at both of those spots as March winds down.

    They also need pass-rushing help and will look to replace departed safety Anthony Harris, but stars Danielle Hunter and Harrison Smith remain on the roster at those positions.

    Presumed 2021 starting offensive linemen Brian O'Neill, Ezra Cleveland and Garrett Bradbury need help.

    The Vikes will likely have that in mind with the No. 14 overall pick in the draft, but the cap-strapped front office should also watch Eric Fisher, Mitchell Schwartz (they could move O'Neill to the left side), Russell Okung, Alejandro Villanueva, Trai Turner and Nick Easton on the free-agent market.

New England Patriots: Quarterback

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    Stew Milne/Associated Press

    The New England Patriots have loaded up at tight end and along the offensive line, and the receiving corps looks deep as Julian Edelman comes back from injury to join Nelson Agholor and N'Keal Harry. They've added a top-notch pass-rusher in Matt Judon, and the rest of the defense looks close to set, especially as Davon Godchaux joins the fray up front.

    That leaves the obvious.

    Cam Newton is back atop the quarterback depth chart even though he threw eight touchdown passes to 10 interceptions in an inefficient 2020 season and hasn't been himself since winning MVP with the Carolina Panthers in 2015. While the Patriots aren't paying him big bucks, they should still do more to address the most important position in football.

    That might no longer happen in free agency and could be a draft focus with the No. 15 overall pick next month, but you also wonder if they might take a stab at Jimmy Garoppolo, Derek Carr or even Sam Darnold on the trade market.

New Orleans Saints: Defensive Line

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    Chris Szagola/Associated Press

    The New Orleans Saints likely hope to replace Jared Cook at tight end and Janoris Jenkins at cornerback, but they have pass-catching depth and several quality options in coverage.

    They bled a little more along the defensive line, where key players Trey Hendrickson and Sheldon Rankins got away in free agency and they traded Malcom Brown to the Jaguars. That puts a lot of pressure on Cameron Jordan (whose sack total plummeted in his age-31 season), edge Marcus Davenport (who has yet to live up to expectations as a 2018 first-round pick) and solid 28-year-old defensive tackle David Onyemata.

    There could be a battle for the vacant starting spot next to Onyemata with undrafted 25-year-old Shy Tuttle likely to have an early edge after flashing as a sophomore in 2020. But there's no guarantee that'll pan out, Jordan appears to be declining and who knows what Davenport can offer?

    The Saints will think about the D-line in the draft, but they could also try to get a second-wave free-agency discount on a vet like Clowney, Ingram, Smith, Dunlap, Houston, Kerrigan, Jurrell Casey or Kawann Short.

New York Giants: The Edge

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    Michael Conroy/Associated Press

    After a March shopping spree, the New York Giants have a stacked receiving corps, an awesomely bulky defensive front and an exciting secondary. But that leaves one clear need on the edge, where nobody on the depth chart generated even five sacks in 2020.

    Leonard Williams and Dexter Lawrence help relieve the burden on whoever lines up on the edge for New York, but that doesn't mean the Giants can neglect those spots in what might be a make-or-break year for the regime and core.

    It's difficult to get fired up about returning pass-rushers Oshane Ximines and Lorenzo Carter, who have a combined 14 sacks in a combined five NFL seasons. They did sign Ifeadi Odenigbo, who recorded seven sacks two years ago in Minnesota, but the 2017 seventh-round pick is coming off a 3.5-sack campaign despite starting 15 games for the Vikings.

    They'll need one more contributor on the edge, and Clowney, Ingram, Smith, Dunlap, Houston and Kerrigan should all be on the table. Beyond that, they have a top-12 pick in April's draft.

New York Jets: Cornerback

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    Adam Hunger/Associated Press

    The New York Jets have work to do (hopefully) with the interior offensive line and could use another pass-rusher to work with new arrival Carl Lawson, but the direst situation on the roster comes at cornerback.

    Slot-oriented veteran Brian Poole was the only decent cover man on the team in 2020, and he's no longer under contract. Beyond that, 2020 fifth-round pick Bryce Hall struggled as a rookie and ideally won't be a starter in 2021, and the same applies to 2019 sixth-rounder Blessuan Austin.

    Neutral fans wouldn't recognize another name on the cornerback depth chart.

    Gang Green is still loaded with salary-cap space. The Jets might not want to overspend on a veteran while rebuilding, but they'd be silly not to explore discounts on lingering free-agent corners like Mackensie Alexander, Steven Nelson, Casey Hayward Jr., Bashaud Breeland and A.J. Bouye.

    They also hold three of the top 34 picks in the draft.

Philadelphia Eagles: Wide Receiver

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    Derik Hamilton/Associated Press

    Travis Fulgham was a revelation in 2020, and you can't count out 22-year-old 2020 first-round pick Jalen Reagor, but Greg Ward Jr. has his limitations, and J.J. Arcega-Whiteside has yet to emerge. That leaves the Philadelphia Eagles receiving corps in need of accomplished talent as the offense embarks on a new era.

    The problem is the Eagles have spent the early part of the 2021 offseason in rough salary-cap shape, and all of the market's top receivers have come off the board (in some cases at extremely discounted rates).

    For the sake of young presumed starting quarterback Jalen Hurts, you'd think general manager Howie Roseman might again use a primo draft pick (they're scheduled to select sixth and 37th) on a wideout, and this receiver class is expected to be deep and talented.

    But the Eagles should also remain in touch with established pass-catchers hanging out on the open market. Sammy Watkins and Golden Tate are out there, and a trade is a possibility with veteran tight end Zach Ertz as potential ammunition.

Pittsburgh Steelers: Offensive Line

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    Matt Durisko/Associated Press

    The Pittsburgh Steelers lost several key players this month, including Bud Dupree on the edge and Steven Nelson at cornerback. They'd like to replace both of those guys, but they have plenty of talent elsewhere on defense.

    They've suffered a lot more along the offensive line. Center Maurkice Pouncey retired, guard Matt Feiler jumped to the Chargers in free agency and longtime left tackle Alejandro Villanueva remains unsigned.

    Maybe they get Villanueva back, but that would make it almost impossible to go outside and replace Pouncey. Besides, 2021 will mark Villanueva's age-33 campaign. That makes the offensive line a major need for Pittsburgh, even if you count Villanueva along with David DeCastro, Chukwuma Okorafor, Kevin Dotson and Zach Banner.

    Austin Reiter, Eric Fisher, Mitchell Schwartz, Russell Okung and Villanueva should all be viewed as potential targets during the next wave of free agency.

San Francisco 49ers: Cornerback

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    Tony Avelar/Associated Press

    With Jaquiski Tartt set to resume his starting strong safety duties with the San Francisco 49ers, the only non-luxury need on the San Francisco roster comes at a cornerback position that wasn't a massive strength even when Richard Sherman and Ahkello Witherspoon were on the roster.

    The 49ers have retained K'Waun Williams, Jason Verrett, Emmanuel Moseley and Dontae Johnson at that crucial position, but Witherspoon is a member of the Seattle Seahawks while Sherman remains on the free-agent market.

    Williams is solid in the slot, but Moseley and Johnson are best-suited as depth guys, and Verrett is one of the most fragile players in the league.

    Corner should be a target early in the draft for San Francisco, but it should also work hard to bring back Sherman and/or land Steven Nelson, Casey Hayward Jr., Bashaud Breeland or A.J. Bouye at a discounted price during the next phase of free agency.

Seattle Seahawks: Complementary Pass-Catcher

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    Ted S. Warren/Associated Press

    The Seattle Seahawks need to do more for franchise quarterback Russell Wilson. Wilson himself said so.

    While bringing in veterans Gabe Jackson and Gerald Everett at guard and tight end, respectively, should help, a pass-catching corps that has lost David Moore, Greg Olsen and Jacob Hollister could use another quality receiver to complement stars DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett.

    No other wide receiver on the roster caught 15 passes in 2020. A third wideout should take priority over another edge defender for a team that has plenty of young pass-rushing talent in recent high draft picks Jordyn Brooks, Darrell Taylor and L.J. Collier.

    Potential targets include Willie Snead IV, Adam Humphries and maybe even Golden Tate or Antonio Brown.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Defensive Line

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    Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

    The Super Bowl champions have brought back their key free agents, making it tough to find weak spots on a deep and skilled Tampa Bay Buccaneers roster.

    That said, in a perfect world, they'd get better ahead of a season in which they'll have a target on their back. There's a reason it's been more than a decade and a half since an NFL team defended a championship.

    If the Bucs want to cover their behinds as well as possible in 2021, they could add another defensive lineman in support of Ndamukong Suh (who is 34) and Vita Vea (who missed much of the 2020 campaign with an ankle injury). Soon-to-be 30-year-old William Gholston isn't a special player, Steve McLendon hasn't been brought back and there's not a lot else.

    Jurrell Casey, Kawann Short and DaQuan Jones remain up for grabs.

Tennessee Titans: Wide Receiver

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    Brett Carlsen/Associated Press

    The Tennessee Titans gutted their secondary, but they still have standout safety Kevin Byard, and they signed vet corners Janoris Jenkins and Kevin Johnson to replace Malcolm Butler and Adoree' Jackson alongside sophomore second-round pick Kristian Fulton.

    They'll still have to address that area, but it's not as large a priority as the receiving corps.

    Yes, they have star A.J. Brown, but with Corey Davis and Adam Humphries gone, no other receiver on the roster caught more than a dozen passes in Tennessee in 2020. Newcomer Josh Reynolds is a quality starting option, but there isn't a lot beyond that.

    They need alternatives to Cameron Batson in the slot, and Golden Tate and Willie Snead IV are available in addition to Humphries. Money is tight, but those guys should come cheap as the offseason stretches on.

Washington Football Team: Linebacker

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    Duane Burleson/Associated Press

    With Ryan Fitzpatrick on board, the Washington Football Team looks set at quarterback until the draft. No use dwelling on that position, then, especially because the linebacker spots remain soft in DC.

    A stacked defensive line and a quality secondary might compensate for the fact that Cole Holcomb, Jon Bostic, Khaleke Hudson and newbie David Mayo make up an underwhelming group at the second level of the defense. But if Washington wants to take another step following a playoff season, more talent would be nice.

    Offensive tackle and wide receiver aren't wrong answers either. That said, Morgan Moses is a pillar, and I'm not giving up on Geron Christian Sr. At wideout, Terry McLaurin is awesome, Kelvin Harmon has a high ceiling and they've added Curtis Samuel in the slot. There's plenty of talent in those spots.

    Instead, Washington fans should hope to see their team push for a veteran like K.J. Wright, Nicholas Morrow or Eric Wilson during the second wave of free agency.