1 Thing Each NFL Team Should Provide This Offseason to Help Its QB in 2022

Chris Roling@@Chris_RolingFeatured ColumnistDecember 24, 2021

1 Thing Each NFL Team Should Provide This Offseason to Help Its QB in 2022

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    Gary McCullough/Associated Press

    It's all about the quarterback in today's NFL. And if the guy under center isn't Tom Brady, a passer's performance can heavily hinge on how well the team has built up the roster around him. 

    Some quarterbacks need more help than others. Even Tampa Bay has thrown a superteam around Brady.

    Justin Herbert is currently blossoming in part because the Los Angeles Chargers so heavily invested in their offensive line. Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow is doing the same with a wicked cast of weapons. 

    Item No. 1 on most teams' to-do lists this offseason is more support for their quarterbacks.

    Some merely need to retain soon-to-be free agents. Others need to think long-term with draft choices. Certain teams need more dynamic weapons or specific positional niches filled, while many need better protection for their passers. 

    Here's a look at one critical thing each team needs to do for its quarterback during the 2022 offseason. 

Arizona Cardinals: A.J. Green, or His Replacement

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    Darryl Webb/Associated Press

    The Arizona Cardinals took a chance on veteran wideout A.J. Green by signing him to a one-year, $6 million deal. He's responded by ranking second on the team with 718 receiving yards and three touchdowns.  

    Green is a great, big-catch-radius option alongside No. 1 wideout DeAndre Hopkins and Christian Kirk. He's also slated to be a free agent after the season. 

    If Green wants to re-sign, there's little reason for Arizona not to bring him back. Quarterback Kyler Murray has blossomed into a borderline top-five player at his position, completing 69.8 percent of his passes with 20 touchdowns over 11 appearances for a 10-4 club. 

    As the Cardinals keep thinking long-term by reinforcing their offensive line with draft picks, Green or a free agent with a similar build will continue to be the smartest way to round out the starting crop of wideouts. 

Atlanta Falcons: Interior Line Help

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    Tony Avelar/Associated Press

    Veteran passer Matt Ryan has had to deal with plenty of issues this season for the 6-8 Atlanta Falcons. He's still completing 67.5 percent of his passes and has 18 touchdowns in 14 games. 

    Some of the issues can't be helped, like No. 1 wideout Calvin Ridley appearing in only five games. But the lack of push from the offensive line is partially why Ryan has been sacked 29 times and Atlanta is averaging only 3.7 yards per carry.

    Center Matt Hennessy, a third-rounder in 2020, has a 70.6 Pro Football Focus grade, which is barely in the "starter" category. Jalen Mayfield, a third-round rookie, has a horrific 49.4 grade with seven penalties and 10 sacks allowed in 14 starts. 

    The Falcons need to bolster their line with a notable veteran in free agency to help Ryan in his final years. Having a leaky O-line could also derail the development of a rookie quarterback down the road. 

Baltimore Ravens: Offensive Tackle Help

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    Ron Schwane/Associated Press

    It's hard to get a gauge on what the Baltimore Ravens need for Lamar Jackson because of how many injuries they've suffered this year.

    Baltimore lost running backs J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards before the season even began, which helps explain why Jackson leads the team in both carries (133) and rushing yards (767). Veteran wideout Sammy Watkins has been in and out of the lineup, while rookie wideout Rashod Bateman didn't make his NFL debut until Week 6, so tight end Mark Andrews has been Jackson's leading pass-catcher.

    Some of the problems reside on the offensive line, though.

    Left tackle Ronnie Stanley has played only one game this season, so Alejandro Villanueva has started in his place, earning a 64.2 PFF grade over 1,004 snaps with 10 penalties and nine sacks allowed. Right tackle Patrick Mekari has a 68.9 grade over 574 snaps (nine starts).

    Better health should help Baltimore's offense get back on track next year. But Jackson taking a career-high 38 sacks over 12 games is concerning both for the Ravens' playoff hopes this season and his long-term health, which makes O-line improvements among their top offseason priorities.

Buffalo Bills: Upgrades Along the Interior

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    Joshua Bessex/Associated Press

    There's a lot to like about how the Buffalo Bills have built around fourth-year quarterback Josh Allen. They have a dynamic backfield and a stacked receiving corps led by Stefon Diggs. 

    But the interior of their offensive line leaves much to be desired.

    Right guard has been a revolving door since last year. Left guard Ike Boettger has a 60.2 PFF grade and has especially struggled in the running game. And center Mitch Morse has a 61.4 grade along with five penalties and two sacks allowed.

    The Bills could seek to address this problem in free agency. They could also go after a draft prospect such as Boston College's Zion Johnson, the 27th-ranked overall player on the B/R scouting department's latest big board

Carolina Panthers: Impact Interior Lineman

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    Joshua Bessex/Associated Press

    Regardless of how the Carolina Panthers recover from the forgettable Sam Darnold-Cam Newton era of 2021, their next quarterback will need a better line in front of him. 

    Veteran center Matt Paradis is a free agent, and the Panthers could use an upgrade there. Perhaps more concerning is guard, which has been a downright disaster. 

    Dennis Daley, who has a 51.9 PFF grade, has been called for nine penalties and has allowed three sacks. John Miller, who has a 54.1 PFF grade, has been called for three penalties and has allowed nine sacks. Michael Jordan, who has a 55.6 PFF grade, has been called for four penalties and has allowed four sacks. 

    All three of them played at least 500 snaps this season. 

    The Panthers are currently on track to have a top-10 pick in 2022. Iowa's Tyler Linderbaum, a consensus top-10 prospect, could be a potential solution if Carolina doesn't make a splash in free agency. 

Chicago Bears: A Change at Head Coach

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    Nam Y. Huh/Associated Press

    Chicago Bears rookie quarterback Justin Fields, the 11th overall pick this year, needs new direction from a fresh coaching staff. 

    Bears head coach Matt Nagy was already on thin ice entering this season after a pair of 8-8 campaigns. The Bears are now 4-10, and he botched the handling of the quarterback situation to start the year. 

    Fields might not have been ready to supplant veteran Andy Dalton right away. But the coaching staff took weeks to adjust to his particular skill set after making the switch from Dalton to him.

    The Bears have plenty of other problems as well. The offensive line has coughed up 45 sacks, and top wideout Allen Robinson II is set to become a free agent. But retaining Nagy beyond this season could further ruin Fields' development.

    CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora reported the Bears are "heavily mulling launching a coach search in the coming weeks," which would be the right play. 

Cincinnati Bengals: Starting-Caliber Guard

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    Jack Dempsey/Associated Press

    The Cincinnati Bengals gambled on a combination of non-first-round picks and free agency to fix their offensive line while using the 2021 draft's No. 5 overall pick on LSU wideout Ja'Marr Chase instead of Oregon offensive tackle Penei Sewell.

    To Chase's credit, he's the top rookie wideout. He already has more than 1,000 receiving yards and is the primary deep threat for second-year quarterback Joe Burrow. But Burrow is still taking too many hits, including 44 sacks.

    Left guard Quinton Spain has been a so-so upgrade next to Jonah Williams. Right guard has been the Bengals' major problem. 

    Jackson Carman, the 46th overall pick in this year's draft, arrived at training camp overweight and failed to win the starting job. That left the Bengals with Xavier Su'a-Filo as the starter, although he played only two games before suffering a knee injury that landed him on IR.

    Carman started in Su'a-Filo's place in five of the Bengals' next six games and earned a 51.7 PFF grade. Once 2020 sixth-round pick Hakeem Adeniji got off injured reserve, Cincinnati immediately pivoted to him, which suggests Carman wasn't the second option for the job, either. 

    Carman might still have a future as the Bengals' right tackle once Riley Reiff is gone. But Cincinnati clearly can't trust him going into 2022—and Adeniji has a 51.9 PFF grade—which makes a big splash on a free-agent guard or high draft pick a top priority. 

Cleveland Browns: A David Njoku Replacement

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    Terrance Williams/Associated Press

    The Cleveland Browns resolved one major problem by trading Odell Beckham Jr. to the Los Angeles Rams. Quarterback Baker Mayfield has one of the NFL's best offensive lines front of him, too. 

    He could use more pass-catching weapons around him, though, particularly in the wake of Beckham's departure.

    Tight end David Njoku, a constant in trade speculation over the years, is set to be a free agent. The Browns could look to replace his big-play production with a free agent or draftee. 

    While Cleveland does have tight end Austin Hooper under contract for two more seasons, he's averaging only 8.8 yards per catch this season with three scores. Njoku has three fewer catches than Hooper, but he also has three touchdowns and is averaging 14.5 yards per catch. 

    Harrison Bryant, a 2020 fourth-round pick, could be a candidate for the role as well. But with Beckham gone and Jarvis Landry about to enter his age-30 season, Cleveland needs to restock at key skill positions. 

Dallas Cowboys: A Better Defense

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    Adam Hunger/Associated Press

    The Dallas Cowboys getting Dak Prescott a better defense sounds vague, but it needs to be the continued goal. 

    In 2020, Dallas' defense was on a historically bad pace before finishing the season allowing 29.6 points per game on average. A coaching staff change and some notable ugprades like first-rounder Michah Parsons later, the unit only allows 20.9. 

    Some of that equation is Prescott back healthy under center, of course. But Keanu Neal, Leighton Vander Esch and Randy Gregory are just some of the names slated to be free agents. And positions like cornerback remain problematic, where Jourdan Lewis has let up a 72.9 completion percentage on 59 targets with three touchdowns. 

    With an already-stacked offense looking great, the natural next step to keep the title window open wide around Prescott is to keep rebuilding the defense. 

Denver Broncos: Upgrade at Center

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    Phelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press

    The Denver Broncos nearly have it all around the quarterback spot—the offensive line has some intriguing pieces in place and the skill positions are overly stacked with talent thanks to the likes of Jerry Jeudy, Courtland Sutton and Noah Fant. 

    Quarterback is something of a mystery, of course. 

    No matter how the Broncos move on from the Drew Lock-Teddy Bridgewater tandem this offseason, center's going to need to be a priority. Lloyd Cushenberry, a third-round pick in 2020, has a 63.5 PFF grade over 925 snaps, allowing five sacks and getting called for six penalties. That's not enough of an improvement over his 40.5 grade over 1,076 snaps as a rookie. 

    If the Broncos, currently slated to have a top-15 pick, are breaking in a new high-profile passer (or a big name acquired in free agency or trade), the heart of the offensive line needs to perform more consistently. 

Detroit Lions: A No. 1 WR

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    Duane Burleson/Associated Press

    The 2-11-1 Detroit Lions figure to spend an early-round pick on a quarterback, even if they can't get out of veteran quarterback Jared Goff's contract right away. While Goff will likely remain a placeholder, Detroit needs to work on revamping the league's worst wideout group in the meantime.

    No Lions wideout has tallied more than 601 yards or three touchdowns this year. Injuries to Tyrell Williams and Quintez Cephus have leff the Lions relying on rookie fourth-rounder Amon-Ra St. Brown, Kalif Raymond and Josh Reynolds in recent weeks. 

    The Lions are projected to have $39 million in cap space and a top-of-the-round pick in each of the first three rounds of the upcoming draft. Tee Higgins, Michael Pittman Jr., A.J. Brown and Deebo Samuel are all recent seocnd-round wideouts who've made an immediate impact, while free agency will boast names like Allen Robinson II.

    A top-end wideout doesn't just grow alongside his quarterback and give him a consistent option. He opens up the field for the rest of the team's weapons, too. 

Green Bay Packers: Re-Sign Davante Adams

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    Nick Wass/Associated Press

    There isn't much debate here, right? 

    Davante Adams is the NFL's best wideout, and his desire to be the highest-paid player at his position is only fair. That means the Green Bay Packers will have to pay him north of $20 million annually on a long-term deal.

    Adams had 1,300-plus receiving yards in both 2018 and 2020, and he's well on his way to a third such season. He's scored 70 touchdowns in 113 games to date with double-digits in four of his last six seasons. He's at eight with three games left this season. 

    The future of Aaron Rodgers will also be hanging over the Packers this offseason. But even if he doesn't return, the Packers should try to re-sign Adams to help the development of 2020 first-rounder Jordan Love.

Houston Texans: Add a Dynamic Weapon

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    Stephen B. Morton/Associated Press

    There's no easy way to make things simpler on whomever starts under center for the Houston Texans next season given the state of the rebuild. 

    The Texans are currently in line for the No. 3 overall pick, which they could spend on a new quarterback or top-end lineman. But with Laremy Tunsil and Geron Christian starting on the edges, the offensive line's outlook isn't terrible. 

    Weapons surrounding the quarterback is a different conversation.

    The Texans don't have a single running back with even 300 rushing yards this season, and only two players have caught multiple touchdowns. Brandin Cooks leads the team with 945 receiving yards, while rookie wideout Nico Collins is a distant second at 311. 

    Spending an early-round pick on a standout receiver and/or gunning for free agents like Allen Robinson II would help out the Texans' next quarterback. The same goes for a more established tight end.

Indianapolis Colts: A No. 2 WR

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    Zach Bolinger/Associated Press

    At 8-6, the Indianapolis Colts have toughed it out in the AFC. That's in large part because running back Jonathan Taylor has been an MVP candidate with a league-high 1,518 rushing yards and 17 scores over 14 appearances. 

    However, the Colts don't have much of a receiving threat beyond Michael Pittman Jr., who leads the team with 889 receiving yards and five touchdowns. Zach Pascal is the next closest at 369 yards, but he's caught only 36 of his 65 targets. 

    Longtime Colts wideout T.Y. Hilton has only been available for seven games and is a free agent after the season. Parris Campbell, a second-round pick in 2019, has played only five games after playing nine total over his first two seasons. 

    The Colts won't have a first-rounder to spend on a wideout. But even signing a mid-tier free agent like JuJu Smith-Schuster, who can command reliable attention underneath and open up the field for others, would add another strong dimension to the offense. 

Jacksonville Jaguars: The Right Head Coach

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    Gary McCullough/Associated Press

    From the beginning, it was easy to raise an eyebrow at the Jacksonville Jaguars' decision to hire Urban Meyer as head coach with Trevor Lawrence incoming as the No. 1 pick. 

    Meyer had an established reputation at the collegiate level, but not in the pros. Things quickly went south for Meyers, and the Jaguars fired him earlier this month. 

    While the 2-12 Jaguars do have a ton of needs on the field, especially along the offensive line and defense, nothing is more important than finding the right head coach. Meyer's handling of running back James Robinson, the team's best offensive weapon, got to the point where Lawrence had to speak up about it. 

    The Jaguars shouldn't lack for promising offensive-minded coaches with upside. Kansas City offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy and Green Bay offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett are among the top offensive candidates who could make or break Lawrence's development. 

Kansas City Chiefs: Keep Investing in the Defense

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    John Cordes/Associated Press

    Last offseason, the Kansas City Chiefs upgraded their offensive line by signing Joe Thuney, trading for Orlando Brown and spending a second-round pick on Creed Humphrey. 

    Other than Patrick Mahomes' interception-happy ways early in the season, the 10-win Chiefs haven't had much to complain about this season. That could change in the future, though, as safety Tyrann Mathieu, corner Mike Hughes and edge-rusher Melvin Ingram are all slated to be free agents. 

    The Chiefs are allowing only 21.1 points per game this season, which ranks eighth leaguewide. To maintain that into next year, they'll need to get creative again with low-cost moves like Ingram while retaining core pieces like Mathieu.

    That means going beyond the draft and looking at re-signings and outside additions via free agency and trades. 

Las Vegas Raiders: Reworked Offensive Line

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    Ron Schwane/Associated Press

    The Las Vegas Raiders' offseason revamp of their offensive line hasn't worked out so far. 

    Trading away center Rodney Hudson cleared the way for Andre James to earn a 60.7 PFF grade while getting flagged seven times over 928 snaps. At one guard spot, John Simpson has a 51.6 grade with nine penalties and three sacks allowed over 906 snaps. At the other, first-round rookie Alex Leatherwood has a 42.0 grade with 13 penalties and seven sacks over 893 snaps. 

    On the right edge, Brandon Parker has earned a 49.3 PFF grade with nine penalties and four sacks over 670 snaps. That leaves left tackle Kolton Miller as the only non-weak point. 

    The Raiders have allowed 33 sacks so far this season, although some of that falls on Derek Carr's shoulders and the offensive scheme, too. But with the running game averaging only 3.8 yards per carry, it's somewhat miraculous that the Raiders are 7-7. 

    Even after last year's first-round investment in Leatherwood, the line needs similar attention this offseason for the Raiders to stay relevant in the stacked AFC West.

Los Angeles Chargers: Re-Sign Mike Williams

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    Ashley Landis/Associated Press

    The Los Angeles Chargers aggressively upgraded their offensive line in front of Justin Herbert last offseason, and it has paid off handsomely.

    With Corey Linsley locking down center, Matt Feiler at a guard spot and first-rounder Rashawn Slater manning a tackle spot, Herbert has blossomed as a sophomore. He's completed 66.4 percent of his passes with 4,058 yards and 32 touchdowns against 12 interceptions. 

    Herbert has targeted Mike Williams 108 times, second only to Keenan Allen (134). The 2017 first-rounder, playing on his fifth-year option, has caught 64 of those throws for 964 yards and seven touchdowns while generating 15 plays of 20-plus yards and averaging 15.1 yards per catch. 

    The 27-year-old Williams is a critical big-play threat for Herbert at 6'4". He gives everyone else in the scheme room to operate because of the threat he presents.

    It's imperative for the Chargers to re-sign him in the middle of his prime, both for immediate-contention purposes and Herbert's development.

Los Angeles Rams: Bring Back Odell Beckham Jr.

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    Ashley Landis/Associated Press

    The Los Angeles Rams should largely aim to keep the band together this offseason, at least within reason. That includes wideout Odell Beckham Jr., who didn't take long to make an impact after joining the Rams in mid-November. 

    Over five games with Matthew Stafford and Co., Beckham has caught 16 of his 28 targets for 211 yards and three touchdowns. Those aren't in-his-prime numbers, but scoring three times with a trio of 20-plus-yard plays on 16 catches isn't bad, either. 

    The Rams have been looking for another receiver to cause mismatches. They took a flier on DeSean Jackson early in the season, and they got only nine games out of veteran Robert Woods this year.

    If Beckham doesn't demand a huge payday, the Rams should aim to bring him back, especially with MVP candidate Coopper Kupp (a league-high 122 catches, 1,625 yards and 14 scores in 14 games) demanding so much attention from defenses. 

Miami Dolphins: Dynamic Running Back

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    Doug Murray/Associated Press

    The Miami Dolphins have some issues in the offensive trenches in front of Tua Tagovailoa, but their running game doesn't scare any defense in the league. 

    The Dolphins running game, which averages only 86.6 yards per game (fifth-worst in the league) and only 3.4 yards per carry, has a bevy of ineffective names that have taken carries so far this year: 

    • Myles Gaskin
    • Salvon Ahmed
    • Duke Johnson 
    • Malcolm Brown
    • Phillip Lindsay 

    Johnson is the only one of those five who has averaged more than 3.8 yards per carry, but he's done so on only 26 attempts over two games. Gaskin leads all backs in receiving with a paltry 217 yards, averaging 4.8 yards per catch. 

    In other words, the Dolphins need a clear-cut upgrade at running back. That could mean grabbing one early in the draft or looking at potential free agents like Leonard Fournette or Melvin Gordon III, among others.

Minnesota Vikings: Upgrade at Guard

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    Nam Y. Huh/Associated Press

    If the Minnesota Vikings stay the course at quarterback with Kirk Cousins, they already have a strong nucleus around him thanks to running back Dalvin Cook and wideouts Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen. 

    Offensive lineman Oli Udoh has been a weak point, though.

    The 2019 sixth-round pick has been asked to move around while the line juggles injuries, but he's been on the interior for most of his struggles. That includes a 54.4 PFF grade with 15 penalties and one sack permitted. 

    While moving Udoh around hasn't helped his consistency, getting a clear-cut upgrade could stabilize the interior for promising prospects like Ezra Cleveland and Garrett Bradbury and tackle Christian Darrisaw. 

    This could mean another early-round investment in the offensive line or jumping on a free-agent market headlined by Brandon Scherff and Andrew Norwell. 

New England Patriots: A No. 1 WR

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    Aaron Doster/Associated Press

    The New England Patriots struck gold with rookie first-round passer Mac Jones. Now they have to beef up the roster around him while he's on an inexpensive rookie contract.

    Over his first 14 games, Jones has completed 69.0 percent of his passes with 18 touchdowns and 10 interceptions for the AFC East's first-place team. Jakobi Meyers leads the team with 102 targets, but he's caught only 65 of them with one touchdown. 

    Nelson Agholor, a noteworthy addition in the offseason, has caught only 36 passes with three scores. Tight end Hunter Henry leads the team by far with nine touchdowns.

    The wideouts might increase their production the more that Jones learns and the playbook expands. But rather than waiting to see if that happens, the Patriots could go hunting for a No. 1 option early in the draft after the failed N'Keal Harry experiment or go after free agents like Allen Robinson II and Chris Godwin. 

New Orleans Saints: Figure Out the QB Position

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    Jason Behnken/Associated Press

    The New Orleans Saints are projected to be more than $60 million over the cap this offseason. They need more consistency out of their offensive line (though injuries haven't helped), and they have to make a decision on the future of wideout Michael Thomas. 

    But above all else, they need to figure out what to do at quarterback.

    Jameis Winston looked like a potential long-term solution after Drew Brees' retirement, throwing 14 touchdowns and three picks over seven appearances. He completed only 59.0 percent of his passes, but he wasn't working with Thomas, either. 

    Winston suffered a season-ending knee injury in Week 8, which likely means he'll have to settle for a prove-it deal in free agency and could be back again. But in mid-November, the Saints signed Taysom Hill to a hybrid contract extension worth between $40 million and $95 million based on what position he plays.

    Turning 32 next August, Hill has thrown two touchdowns and four interceptions over three starts since Winston's injury. However, he landed on the reserve/COVID-19 list on Thursday, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.

    The Saints need to make an ironclad decision this offseason that will free up all of the first-team reps, prevent a media circus and get the franchise on the same page. 

New York Giants: Rebuild the Offensive Line

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    Steve Luciano/Associated Press

    The New York Giants might move on from third-year quarterback Daniel Jones after another underwhelming season. They're currently on track for two top-six picks, one of which they could use on their next potential quarterback of the future.

    But regardless of what they do under center, they need to make wholesale changes to their offensive line, too.

    Guard Will Hernandez, a second-round pick in 2018, has been flagged eight times and has allowed six sacks over 910 snaps, per PFF. Center Billy Price has a 63.8 grade with four penalties and one sack in 849 snaps. Tackle Nate Solder has been called for five penalties and allowed five sacks, and he's heading into free agency after this season.

    Some of the blame goes to the Giants' quarterbacks and surrounding pieces like coaching. But big investments like Hernandez and Solder and smaller moves like Price haven't panned out.

    Resetting via the draft and free agency is a must alongside restarting at quarterback. 

New York Jets: Get a Playmaker at TE

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    Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

    The 3-11 New York Jets can go a bevy of ways with their potential pair of top-10 picks. They need to acquire more help for 2021 No. 2 overall pick Zach Wilson. 

    Thanks to first-round guard Alijah Vera-Tucker, the Jets' offensive line already boasts plenty of upside. They also have an encouraging duo of wideouts in second-round rookie Elijah Moore and veteran Corey Davis.

    They could use more production at tight end, though.

    Ryan Griffin leads all Jets tight ends with only 261 receiving yards and two touchdowns this season. Considering how important the position is to a rookie passer's development and Wilson's performance so far—56.2 completion percentage, six touchdowns, 11 interceptions—that's a clear area in which to pursue an upgrade.

    The Jets shouldn't spend either of their first-round picks on a tight end, but they could pursue one in later rounds or in a free-agent class featuring Zach Ertz, O.J. Howard and others.

Philadelphia Eagles: Upgrade the Defense

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    Matt Rourke/Associated Press

    It's hard to complain about the situation that the Philadelphia Eagles find themselves in with Jalen Hurts as the starting quarterback. He appears worthy of a long-term look under center, and they'll have a trio of first-round picks thanks in part to the Carson Wentz trade.

    The Eagles' offensive line is solid, Miles Sanders can be an elite running back, and the DeVonta Smith-Dallas Goedert tandem has huge upside. That's why they should prioritize defensive upgrades this offseason.

    The Eagles have managed only 23 sacks this year, which ranks 30th leaguewide, and their 70.1 completion percentage allowed is better than only Jacksonville's. The unit desperately needs blue-chip talent at premium spots like edge-rusher and defensive back. 

    They could try to package some of their picks to jump up for a pass-rusher like Oregon's Kayvon Thibodeaux or gun for a free agent like safety Jessie Bates III. Either way, this offseason is the time for them to stock up on defense.

Pittsburgh Steelers: Rebuilt Trenches

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    Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

    The Pittsburgh Steelers will likely need to seek out Ben Roethlisberger's successor under center this offseason while rebuilding their offseason line.

    Big Ben has been underwhelming this season, but the bad line in front of him hasn't helped. He's been sacked 33 times, while first-round running back Najee Harris is averaging only 3.6 yards per carry. 

    It isn't a one-man issue, either.

    Center Kendrick Green has a 53.7 PFF grade with eight penalties and two sacks allowed. Tackle Dan Moore Jr. has been called for five penalties and has allowed six sacks, per PFF. The other tackle, Chukwuma Okorafor, has drawn 10 flags

    If the Steelers don't re-sign Big Ben, they're projected to have more than $46 million in cap space, so free agents like Brandon Scherff could be in play. They could then earmark their first-round pick for a quarterback.

San Francisco 49ers: An End to the QB Controversy

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    Stephen Brashear/Associated Press

    The San Francisco 49ers remained true to their word and mostly stuck with Jimmy Garoppolo over No. 3 overall pick Trey Lance when health permitted. At 8-7, they're hanging around the playoff picture, too.

    But the Niners' offensive success is almost coming in spite of Garoppolo.

    The veteran is taking good care of the ball (67.4 completion percentage, 18 touchdowns, eight interceptions), but the strong offensive line headed up by Trent Williams, sixth-round rookie running back Elijah Mitchell and all-purpose threat Deebo Samuel (1,088 receiving yards, 269 rushing yards, 12 total touchdowns) are doing the heavy lifting. 

    While the Niners have taken it slow with Lance this season, he figures to supplant Garoppolo next year. The veteran's contract carries only a $1.4 million dead-cap charge, and he should have some trade value. 

Seattle Seahawks: Rebuild the Trenches

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    Ashley Landis/Associated Press

    Anything is possible this offseason between the Seattle Seahawks and Russell Wilson. NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported that more trade talk is "expected this offseason," as Wilson's camp viewed this as a make-or-break year.

    Regardless of who the Seahawks start at quarterback next year, he'll need more help from his linemen.

    DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett are great receiving weapons, and Chris Carson is typically a steady running back. But they won't get the ball enough if the quarterbacks are getting sacked 40-plus times every season.

    Wilson is being pressured on 27.0 percent of his dropbacks, which is tied for the seventh-highest mark in the league. 

    The Seahawks are projected to have more than $53 million in cap space this offseason. They need to make a decision about Wilson's future and 36-year-old left tackle Duane Brown before worrying about outside free agents, especially since they don't have a first-round pick due to the Jamal Adams trade.  

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Extensions for Key Pieces

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    Mark LoMoglio/Associated Press

    The Tampa Bay Buccaneers currently have a star-studded offensive cast led by future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady. 

    The defending Super Bowl champions will have some work to do this offseason to keep it that way.

    Center Ryan Jensen, who is set to be a free agent, currently has a solid 71.4 PFF grade over 960 snaps. The Bucs should aim to re-sign him to maintain the continuity of their offensive line.

    Running backs Leonard Fourette and Ronald Jones II are also slated to hit free agency, as are tight end Rob Gronkowski and wideout Antonio Brown. The same goes for receiver Chris Godwin, who caught 98 catches for 1,103 yards and five touchdowns before suffering a season-ending ACL tear this past Sunday.

    The Buccaneers currently project to have more than $32 million in cap space before any cost-saving measures like cuts and restructures. If Brady wants to keep playing, the Bucs will need to bring as much of the band back as possible.

Tennessee Titans: Upgrade at TE

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    Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

    The Tennessee Titans swapped out Corey Davis for Julio Jones last year, but they didn't make a corresponding move to compensate for the departure of tight end Jonnu Smith. 

    Smith's eight touchdowns last year were second on the team only to A.J. Brown. He hauled in 41 catches for 448 yards, both of whcih ranked third behind Brown and DAvis.

    Quarterback Ryan Tannehill was likely to regress from his career-high 33 touchdowns and seven interceptions in 2020. But he has 14 touchdowns and a career-high 14 interceptions this season, and his 6.9 yards per attempt is his lowest mark since 2014.

    Since star running back Derrick Henry suffered a foot injury, the Titans have gone 3-3, and Tannehill has only four touchdowns and seven picks over that stretch. On the season, no Tennessee tight end has surpassed the 200-yard mark. 

    Tight end isn't the only problem in Tennessee, but it's a notable area of regression that can be fixed early in the draft or on the free-agent market with names like O.J. Howard and David Njoku. 

Washington Football Team: Re-Upping Linemen

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    Terrance Williams/Associated Press

    The Washington Football Team has the foundation of a strong offense in place. A stout offensive line leads the way for a quality backfield, and when healthy, tight end Logan Thomas and wideout Curtis Samuel are great running mates for No. 1 wideout Terry McLaurin. 

    But Washington has to be able to keep the band together until it finds a franchise passer. That pertains to the offensive line in particular.

    Elite guard Brandon Scherff, whom Washington has franchise-tagged twice in a row, is set to be a free agent. So is left tackle Charles Leno Jr., a late cut in Chicago who has stepped in for Washington after the loss of Trent Williams and delivered a 81.1 PFF grade. 

    Projected to have nearly $60 million in cap space, Washington should be able to keep the line together while seeking out a long-term franchise passer.

    All statistics via Pro Football Reference and Pro Football Focus unless otherwise noted. All contract figures via Spotrac.