Ahh, the regular season is finally over and it is time for the NFL playoffs! That of course means that for the vast majority of NFL teams the time has come to study the salary cap and check out big name free agents, pour over mock drafts, and most importantly fire coaches and front office folks. But don’t worry, in a few weeks time, all but two other teams in the league will be doing the same exact thing. We are getting it started early here as we look at each team in the NFL and make our bold predictions as to what could be their biggest off-season moves.
32. Arizona Cardinals: Trade Away Stars
The main job in Arizona will be to figure out how a team that everyone thought of as a favorite for this year’s Super Bowl somehow put out such an average season. At the same time they might want to figure out a way to adjust their scheme to give David Johnson the ball every single play because he might be the best player in the NFL. Assuming Carson Palmer sticks around they should have a good QB. Assuming the free agents on defense stick around they have a solid base there as well. If that does not happen, which is possible then they will lose some quality players to free agency that will need to be replaced. One interesting way to get some replacements might be to trade one of their most valuable pieces. Larry Fitzgerald is looking to be on a contender and depending on how many players are lost to free agency and if it looks like Carson Palmer is near the end, the Cardinals best choice may be to send him to a team that might be a little closer to the promised land who can offer them something decent in return.
Projection: Trade Larry Fitzgerald for Jimmy Garoppolo and trade Carson Palmer for some draft picks.
31. Atlanta Falcons: Sign Some Defense
With one of the best offenses in the NFL, the Falcons have no problems on that side of the ball. Like every other year however, they still need some help on defense so that is probably where they will look to add someone. They have gotten pretty good production from Vic Beasley so why not go back to the well and grab another Clemson player like defensive lineman in Carlos Watkins. Or maybe grab defensive back Cordea Tankersley. Even if they do not make it to the Super Bowl this year, they at least know that they are close. That probably means they might be in a win now mode and could look to the free agent market to get a defensive star to put them over the top. If Jamie Collins leaves the Browns, or if Chandler Jones can be tempted away from the Cardinals, they would be two great choices. Or maybe coach Dan Quinn wants to put together a new version of the Legion of Boom and grab a defensive back.
Projection: Sign Stephon Gilmore from Buffalo in free agency.
30. Baltimore Ravens: Find Future Stars
Although they always seem to need help at receiver, the Ravens usually end up getting by with lower priced wide-outs and speedy deep threat types without ever getting a stud number one receiver. Baltimore could also use an upgrade at running back, or really, maybe a better offensive coordinator to get more out of the parts they have. But who are we kidding, the Ravens M.O. has always been defense and they always seem to replenish that side of the ball. Their biggest need is probably pass rushers since Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil are nearing the end of their time as difference makers. Suggs will still probably be around for a while but it is definitely high time to try to find someone to replace him. The Ravens are not really in win-now mode, they do like to build through the draft, and missing the playoffs means they are smack dab in the middle this year with the 16th pick so that seems to be their best bet at finding the next Terrell Suggs.
Projection: Draft Taco Charlton from Michigan.
29. Buffalo Bills: New Coach
This one is easy, find a new coach and a defensive coordinator. It also looks like they are planning on getting rid of Tyrod Taylor, so a quarterback is also on the list of necessities. In truth the Bills seemed like a worse team than they actually were, finishing one game under .500 at 7-9. But a Bills team without a QB and with a new coach might be on the downswing rather than the upswing. On the other hand if their players who missed a lot of time with injuries come back next year in good shape, that would bode well for improvement. The Bills being the Bills, and not exactly being a marquee job, expect a possible retread. Oh look, there’s Jeff Fisher! Bonus fact, the past two teams that Fisher coached, relocated cities during his tenure (Oilers/Titans and STL/LA Rams). So if they do hire Fisher maybe we will get the London or Toronto Bills in a couple years.
Prediction: Bills hire Jeff Fisher, move to Canada in 2020.
28. Carolina Panthers: Protection for Newton
The Panthers would love to un-rescind the franchise tag they removed from Josh Norman last off-season if that was possible. But it is not, which means the secondary they damaged when they let Norman bolt is still a problem. They also need to protect Cam Newton since the refs sometimes fail to do so. Keeping your franchise quarterback upright and uninjured is probably more important. And besides, no matter who they found at corner-back, they would still have trouble containing Julio Jones, Mike Evans, and whichever 1000 yard receiver Drew Brees is throwing to over six games every season. One good thing about not returning to the Super Bowl this year is they are over 20 spots further up in the draft this time so they could have access to a potential long term starter whichever way they choose to go. But they should keep in mind; the best protection for one Cam is another Cam.
Projection: Select Alabama’s Cam Robinson in the draft.