It doesn’t matter if your favorite team wins the Super Bowl or goes 0-16, every team needs to improve in the offseason. Teams lose players and players decline, so even if you keep a majority of the same team on your roster, that doesn’t necessarily mean you will be just as good. Not to mention, teams within the division could improve too. It’s really hard to bank on your roster to continuously win year after year, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you need to do a complete overhaul of the roster each offseason.
There are so many ways to upgrade a roster that even teams with minimal cap space can improve. With the draft, free agency, and trades, there are so many players available at many different positions that can help a team improve. The problem sometimes is, some positions are limited. In this specific offseason, expect the wide receiver position to be limited, especially through free agency.
What’s good about this offseason, is every team has the ability to make moves to make themselves playoff contenders (or remain contenders). You could argue that every team has a decent amount of talent, which puts every team in a position to win every season. In 2018, we saw an 0-16 from 2017 remain in playoff contention until Week 16. You never know what to expect in the NFL.
It’s interesting to see where teams really need to improve, and it gives you a feel of how close a team may be from being successful. We will break down the biggest roster upgrade each team needs to make this offseason.
There are rumblings that the Cardinals could trade Josh Rosen and draft Kyler Murray, considering Kliff Kingsbury is a big fan. How does one justify that? You trade up to draft a quarterback, just to trade him the next offseason because your head coach likes someone else more? It would be a miracle if the front office allowed it to happen.
Unless the Cardinals get a great offer to trade back in the draft, they’re going to go with Nick Bosa. Bosa is the clear-cut best player in this draft, even with his injury.
Looking at the Falcons, it would be lazy to say that they have a lot of improvements to be made on defense. Some notable injuries they sustained on defense included Ricardo Allen, Deion Jones, and Keanu Neal. Those are three of their best defensive players, who combined, missed most of the season.
Where the Falcons need to improve is their pass rush. Considering the Falcons' cap situation, they need to find someone cheaper. Muhammad Wilkerson is a perfect fit. He should be a cheap signing because he missed most of this season.
By the looks of it, Cole Beasley will likely leave Dallas this offseason. For the Ravens, they'll save themselves some cap space once they move on from Joe Flacco. A player who could be left in free agency is John Brown, who was terrific this season. Brown fit this new scheme under Lamar Jackson perfectly.
If the Ravens part ways with Brown, which they shouldn’t, Beasley is a great replacement. He's quick and does an excellent job of creating separation. This should be looked at as a major need if the Ravens don’t re-sign Brown, as he was a big part of Lamar Jackson’s success.
Yes, the Bills will have an early first-round pick, but the move that is going to matter the most is how the Bills deal with their receiving corps. They waived Kelvin Benjamin before the 2018 season ended, so they’re ready to start brand new. Ninth overall may be too early to select Marquise Brown, so they'll likely trade down, or possibly wait wait until the second round to add a receiver.
The Bills would add a ton of talent by drafting A.J. Brown, who in two seasons at Oklahoma caught 132 passes for 2,413 yards and scored 17 touchdowns. A solid addition with a day two pick.
Everything fell apart for the Panthers this season, as they started off the year 6-2, and finished 7-9. There are many defensive concerns, but with Devin Funchess hitting free agency, the Panthers have no choice but to add a wide receiver. They’re confident in D.J. Moore as their No. 1 receiver, so they could sign someone like Adam Humphries to be their No. 2.
Humphries was quietly fantastic this season, as he finished with 76 receptions for 816 yards and five touchdowns. He would be a nice safety target for Cam Newton and could take some pressure away from Moore.
Throughout this season, the Bears looked like they may have been Super Bowl bound. They had a scary good defense and an offense that at times could point up points. The obvious improvement that needs to be made this offseason is that Mitchell Trubisky needs to continue to improve, but this defense needs to be better against the deep ball. A problem with that is they don’t have much money to spend. They can sign George Iloka, who will be a cheap signing who can play aside Eddie Jackson.
By the looks of it, the Bengals are going to be losing A.J. Green in the near future. Green is one of the best wide receivers in the league, but he’s coming off a foot injury going into a contract year. With Green still very valuable, the Bengals could get at least a first-round pick in a trade.
If they were to lose Green, they need to add another receiver. Devin Funchess could be a good addition whose price tag has gone down due to his lack of production at the end of the 2018 season.
Next season, the Browns are going to be in a great position to win the division. The Browns went 5-3 following the Hue Jackson firing and overall looked much better under a new coach. What’s exciting for the team, is they still have plenty of money to spend. 2o19 is a good time to sign Ndamukong Suh to a multi-year deal and try to take advantage of the cap space they have available. Suh has been one of the best defensive tackles in the game and would make this defensive line much better.
An interesting player who will likely be shopped this offseason is DeSean Jackson, who has stated he wants out this offseason. If that’s the case, he may not be worth any more than a day four pick considering his age, inconsistency, and his lack of desire to stay in Tampa.
If the Cowboys let Cole Beasley walk and cut Allen Hurns, this is a great pickup. It would give Dak Prescott a deep ball threat, which then allows them to play Amari Cooper all over the field and Michael Gallup can produce even more if he's facing nickel corners. The Cowboys offense would be close to complete.
Kyler Murray will be entering the NFL Draft and sources say it's his desire to play football over baseball. What could become really interesting, is now Murray could be the first quarterback drafted. It could happen, but we don’t think so. The Broncos pick 10th in the draft, with several teams picking before them that could possibly look for a quarterback.
We reckon John Elway has to be feeling the heat and will want to find a franchise quarterback, so it's possible he trades up and drafts Murray. Murray has the athletic ability to be a star, but there are some concerns surrounding his size.
Something that has always held the Lions back is their secondary. It’s time the Lions invest in a cornerback in free agency, and there’s a pretty good one coming out of Houston. Kareem Jackson will be 31 years old next season, but can likely be signed at a cheaper deal for the production he can provide. In 2018, he had two interceptions, 17 pass deflections, two forced fumbles, and 87 total tackles. It was the best season of his career, and at 31, the Lions could land him on short-term deal.
A lot of reports have circulated about A.J. Green possibly being traded this offseason, which makes a lot of sense considering his age and the injury he just sustained. The good thing is he was still playing lights out before he got hurt. The Packers should trade a first rounder to go after Green. Just imagine a receiving corps with Davante Adams and A.J. Green; they would be nearly unstoppable to stop, especially with Aaron Rodgers throwing the ball to them. If you want to win a championship before Rodgers retires, this is the way to go.
Lamar Miller isn’t consistent enough to be the starting running back for the Texans, so with a free agency period packed with running backs, the Texans need to find one. Tevin Coleman is one of the most versatile running backs in the game and gets overlooked, since he's stuck behind Devonta Freeman on the depth chart. Coleman finished the 2018 season averaging 4.8 yards per carry, and scored nine total touchdowns. Coleman would also be a good fit in a running back committee, which will allow the Texans to get D’Onta Foreman involved.
Here comes the team with the most cap space this offseason, but they shouldn’t force the issue of spending a lot of money if there aren’t players they love. As for free agency, there’s a lot of defensive talent. They could decide to sign Ezekiel Ansah on a one-year, 'prove it' deal.
Ansah continues to deal with injuries throughout his career, but when he’s healthy, there’s no question what he’s able to do. It’s worth giving a shot for a player who can really make a difference on defense.
Nick Foles will forever be a legend in Philadelphia for finally bringing a Super Bowl to the city. However, the Eagles have already committed to Carson Wentz and there's just no way Foles can spend another year on the bench when his value is the highest it's ever been. It's unclear how Foles will leave Philly, whether it be via trade, or buying his way into free agency by opting out. Either way, the Jags seem like the best fit. They need solid quarterback play to return to Super Bowl contention and they just hired Foles's old offensive coordinator John DeFilippo. Foles is the best short-term solution for the Jags out there.
Now that the Chiefs have found their offensive identity, they need to address the defense. It helps that Damien Williams has been so effective in the running game because it will prevent the Chiefs from having to spend money on a running back in free agency.
Clay Matthews will be on the market, and even in his 30s, can be effective. One of the weakest parts of the Chiefs defense was the linebacker position, and Matthews can play the run and pass rush. Being over 30, Matthews comes in cheaper and joins a formidable pass rush in Kansas City.
The Chargers defense has a lot of potential, but they can definitely use another cornerback. Jason Verrett was hurt all season and likely will be moving on, but the Chargers can add some experience in Jason McCourty. McCourty’s age should lead him to take a cheaper contract, but he’s been really effective. You add talent to an already solid defense and make a move that will help now, rather than later. That has to be the goal, considering the Chargers haven’t made any moves to go after a young quarterback to be Philip Rivers’ successor.
Looking at the Rams' cap space heading into 2019, they look like they will be in the middle of the pack with just over $35 million. They’re going to have to see what they would like to do with their own free agents, most notably LaMarcus Joyner. With other safeties available, expect them to go in a different direction considering Joyner’s price tag may be too large. Earl Thomas’s value may have decreased due to his recent injury, but there’s no question that Thomas is a factor anytime he’s on the field. And Thomas would relish a chance to stick it to Seattle twice a year.
This offseason, the Dolphins will find themselves going after two quarterbacks - one for the present, and one for the future. While reports have come out that Miami is eying the 2020 class for their franchise QB, we've seen teams fall in love with a QB once they go through the combine and interview process.
The Dolphins could look to draft Drew Lock at some point in the draft. Lock was a three-year starter at Missouri, and finished with 44 touchdown passes in his best season in 2017. Lock won’t jump right into it but may be ready to start in 2020.
If the Vikings don’t look to re-sign Anthony Barr, expect them to go after Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis. Davis announced that he will not return to the team, as they decided to go in a different direction. Davis has been incredible throughout his career and would be a good replacement for Barr. By drafting Davis, it also gives the Vikings the opportunity to draft a linebacker a little bit later in the draft and learn from a veteran. In the meantime, it helps strengthen an already dominant defense.
Depending on how the draft is going, the Patriots should trade up to select A.J. Brown. Julian Edelman is getting a little long in the tooth, and with Rob Gronkowski on the verge of retirement, the Patriots desperately need to find a playmaker. A.J. Brown is considered the best wide receiver in the draft, even after only playing one season at Ole Miss. In that season, he caught 85 passes for 1,320 yards and scored six touchdowns. Brown is the type of playmaker they need, and the Patriots can draft a tight end later in the draft, considering the depth at the position.
When you look at the Saints roster, there’s no glaring hole. With Mark Ingram set to hit free agency, the Saints could use another power running back. Alvin Kamara can handle the workload, but this offense is much more efficient when they have another back as well. Frank Gore is good because he’s consistent, and can be even better behind that Saints offensive line. He can make an immediate impact, but also won’t touch the ball as much as Kamara, which allows him to really take the responsibility as the starting running back.
All eyes are on the New York Giants to draft Dwayne Haskins, including Haskins himself. Something that may be a concern for Haskins, is his lack of experience. He only played one full college season, in which he threw for 4,831 yards and 50 touchdowns, and eight interceptions. Haskins is smart with the football, is willing to throw the football down the field, and is good in the pocket. The window is closing for Eli Manning, and the Giants need to take advantage of the youth they have on this team with Odell Beckham Jr. and Saquon Barkley before their window closes as well.
If Adam Gase wants to make an immediate impact, he should pressure management to trade for Antonio Brown. Sam Darnold has a lot of potential, but he’s going to need a No. 1 receiver to reach the next level. A first rounder from the Jets, considering how high they're picking, may be enough to land Brown. Brown’s diva nature may deter them from doing so, but there are no real No. 1 wide receivers available in free agency, and selecting A.J. Brown at 6th overall may be too early. The better option would be trading for Brown, and adding a receiver with a mid-round pick.
Speaking of Antonio Brown, where will Le’Veon Bell sign? He made comments that he would love to link up with Andrew Luck in Indianapolis, but that would be a reckless way for the Colts front office to spend their money, considering Marlon Mack has proven he can produce behind Indy's dominant offensive line.
Jon Gruden needs to add a playmaker on that offense, and Bell can do it all. It also benefits that he will only be 27 years old to start the season. Adding Bell gives Derek Carr a running game and a check-down option in the passing game. The Raiders also have the cap space to pay Bell what he wants.
Jay Ajayi is one of the many running backs hitting free agency, so the Eagles have to make an important decision. Ajayi missed most of the 2018 season, which will be a big reason they choose not to re-sign him, considering there are so many talented running backs available. The Eagles are going to have to make some decisions as far as their cap distribution, considering they’re over the cap as it stands. After they do that, they can sign Mark Ingram, who has proven he can be a 1,000-yard rusher in this league.
If Antonio Brown does, in fact, get traded, Pittsburgh's best bet will probably sign a veteran receiver to pair with Juju Smith-Schuster and James Washington. Ben Roethlisberger isn’t getting any younger, and the Steelers' championship window closes once Ben decides to retire. The only option in free agency that makes sense is Randall Cobb. Cobb has been a solid receiver throughout his career and can make a lot of plays as the attention now will be attracted to JuJu Smith-Schuster.
The 49ers haven’t had the most success drafting recently, which is why they continue to struggle, on top of Jimmy Garoppolo’s season-ending injury in 2018. In the 2017 draft, the 49ers selected Solomon Thomas and Reuben Foster. One player has struggled, the other is already off the team due to off-the-field issues. In a defense heavy draft, the Niners will head back to the defensive line, as they select Quinnen Williams out of Alabama. Williams finished the 2018 season with 19.5 tackles for a loss, eight sacks, 71 total tackles, and a pass deflection. He has the makeup to be a solid defensive tackle in the NFL.
When you look at Seattle, they’re built for success for years to come. Where they need to improve is in the passing game. Obviously, there needs to be improvements in the play calling, but they need another playmaker. Jared Cook would be perfect, as the Seahawks don’t have a playmaker at the tight end position right now. Clearly, they miss Jimmy Graham. Cook is one of the most underrated tight ends in the game. He finished the season with 896 receiving yards and six touchdowns. That's an immediate upgrade for Seattle.
With Bruce Arians taking over the job in Tampa, the Buccaneers are now an attractive team to play for. They've now got a great coach with a lot of experience, who is coaching in a warm climate city. Will that be appealing enough to sign Landon Collins? The Buccaneers' greatest weakness is their secondary, which desperately needs improvement. In 2016, Collins finished the season with five interceptions. He struggled in pass coverage this season but should bounce back after a healthy offseason. This would be a terrific signing, along with drafting some secondary help.
Dante Fowler Jr.’s time to head back to the AFC South is now. The Titans have money to spend, and still need to find a solid pass rusher. Brian Orakpo has announced his retirement, so it’s time to start looking. Fowler Jr. would be a good fit for the Titans, and they would likely pay him the money he wants. Fowler actually took a step backward this season in production but proved in 2017 he can be a solid asset to a defense.
The biggest move the Redskins will likely make is signing a quarterback, but that won’t be an upgrade from Alex Smith. The team’s options will likely come down to Ryan Tannehill and Joe Flacco, or they can also look into the draft. The Redskins may even whiff in free agency and try to run the offense with Colt McCoy, and then look ahead to the 2020 draft to find their long-term solution. For now, they add a talented linebacker in Anthony Barr, who has been exceptional against the run. That's something the Redskins need in a division with two star running backs.