Every NFL team’s biggest need entering 2021 offseason

Every team's biggest need

NFL teams use the offseason in different ways. The smart ones draft well, give out reasonable contracts, and fine-tune the salary cap. Others regularly overpay for average players, ignore positions of need, and trick themselves into taking Day 2 guys in the first round. Aging teams might even shed players to save money and try to desperately squeeze under the salary cap. Regardless of which category your team falls in, the offseason is always an exciting time for football fans.

Every organization has an opportunity to improve its roster this spring. Even the future Super Bowl champions have holes they need to address. Here are each team’s biggest needs. I’ve ordered them from most important to least. The number of needs differs depending on how talented each franchise’s roster is, but every team has at least three.

Arizona Cardinals- CB, TE, RB, EDGE, WR

Arizona’s offensive line made a significant jump in 2020, allowing 21 fewer sacks than in 2019. Unfortunately, the Cardinals could lose running back Kenyan Drake in free agency, and the offense lacks a clear second receiving option behind DeAndre Hopkins. Vance Joseph’s defense needs to play better for Arizona to make the playoffs. Injuries to Chandler Jones and Patrick Peterson’s decline weakened the unit this season.

Status: 8-8 Team

Atlanta Falcons- RB, EDGE, S, CB

The Falcons have a new head coach and an aging roster. Atlanta’s defense allowed the fourth-most yards in the NFL last year and had the worst pass defense. They only recorded 29 sacks too. For reference, Pittsburgh led the league with 56 sacks. Arthur Smith needs to revitalize Matt Ryan’s offense while adding a ton of new starters on defense.

Status: Declining

Baltimore Ravens- WR, EDGE, IOL

Marquise Brown is at best a No. 2 wide receiver. Center Matt Skura played poorly in the playoffs, and the interior offensive line never recovered after Marshal Yanda retired. With Matt Judon, Yannick Ngakoue, and Derek Wolfe all hitting free agency, Baltimore should use significant assets to fix the pass rush. However, all of the help in the world won’t save the Ravens from declining unless they get more innovative on offense.

Status: One Draft Away

Buffalo Bills- OT, CB, IOL, EDGE

Tre’Davious White is a great corner, but the Bills don’t have anyone to play on the other side. A pass rusher outside of 32-year-old Jerry Hughes or 33-year-old Mario Addison could help the whole unit. On offense, the Bills could use an upgrade at tight end, but the offensive line is a real issue. Poor interior run blocking sabotaged the ground game, and right tackle Daryl Williams is a free agent.

Status: Super Bowl Contenders

Carolina Panthers- OT, LB, QB, TE, CB

With Los Angeles recently shipping off Jared Goff, it isn’t inconceivable that the Panthers move on from Teddy Bridgewater. While Carolina has Robby Anderson, Christian McCaffrey, and D.J. Moore, the Panthers never replaced Greg Olsen. Both of Carolina’s tackles (Taylor Moton and Russell Okung) are free agents. The defense needs a corner to replace James Bradberry and a third linebacker to play alongside Jeremy Chinn and Shaq Thompson.

Status: 8-8 Team

Chicago Bears- QB, OT, WR, IOL, EDGE

With Allen Robinson and Mitchell Trubisky hitting the open market, Chicago needs some significant reinforcements on offense. The Bears have an average defense, but Robert Quinn was a huge disappointment this year. The free agent signing only recorded two sacks, giving Khalil Mack very little help. Chicago’s offensive line needs several new starters.

Status: Declining

Cincinnati Bengals- OT, CB, EDGE, TE

The Bengals have plenty of pieces in place to make a run next season. The offense features Tyler Boyd, Joe Burrow, Tee Higgins, and Joe Mixon. The defense has Jessie Bates III and Logan Wilson. Unfortunately, not a single offensive lineman, even Jonah Williams, had a standout season. Cincinnati also had an NFL-low 17 sacks while allowing the 26th most yards in the league.

Status: Two Years Away

Cleveland Browns- EDGE, LB, CB

Cleveland finally shed its playoff drought, going 11-5 and beating Pittsburgh in the Wild Card Round. However, the Browns have plenty of holes on defense. While Cleveland’s defense was in the middle of the pack, huge improvements on that side of the ball could lead to Kevin Stefanski’s team winning the division.

Status: One Draft Away

Dallas Cowboys- QB, OT, CB, EDGE, IDL, S

Dak Prescott returning to Dallas is far from a guarantee, even though the Cowboys would be idiots to let him walk. Jerry Jones needs to spend less time on his yacht and put in work this offseason. His team has two injured tackles, no players with seven sacks, only one starting corner, and a complete lack of depth. Playing in the NFC East keeps the Cowboys in limbo, but there’s no hope for them emerging as contenders next year.

Status: In Limbo

Denver Broncos- QB, CB, IDL

Drew Lock isn’t the answer. No quarterback drafted by John Elway could possibly be. With that in mind, Denver needs to take advantage of the quarterback-heavy draft class and free agent market. A shutdown corner and more help on the interior defensive line would bolster a middle-of-the-pack defense. The Broncos have plenty of talented players. They just need to put everything together.

Status: In Limbo

Detroit Lions- WR, EDGE, CB, LB, IDL

Matthew Stafford finally requested a trade from Detroit, and he got his wish. Jared Goff is coming to the Motor City along with several high picks. Dan Campbell still needs replacements for free agents Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones, a pass rush, two new cornerbacks, and a miracle to fix the Lions.

Status: Total Rebuild

Green Bay Packers- CB, RB, WR, OT

The Packers are title contenders as long as they have Aaron Rodgers, but the MVP isn’t getting any younger. Green Bay should take care of the legend by surrounding him with more weapons and a new right tackle. The offense risks losing Aaron Jones and Corey Linsley to free agency this spring. On defense, the Packers need someone they can start alongside Jaire Alexander.

Status: Super Bowl Contenders

Houston Texans- CB, EDGE, IOL, WR, RB, TE, S

The Texans have no interest in trading Deshaun Watson, and Watson has no interest in ever playing for the Texans again. As the passive-aggressive back-and-forth between the two sides continues, Houston’s new head coach and general manager take over a team in turmoil. Outside of Brandin Cooks, the offense has no quality skill players. The defense is even worse, ranking among the bottom six teams in yards and points allowed.

Status: Total Rebuild

Indianapolis Colts- QB, WR, OT, CB

Indianapolis made the playoffs this season, going 11-5 and giving the Buffalo Bills everything they could handle in the Wild Card Round. Unfortunately, Anthony Castonzo and Philip Rivers recently retired. The Colts also face losing T.Y. Hilton, Justin Houston, and Xavier Rhodes in free agency. With only Jacob Eason listed at quarterback and the absence of many former Pro Bowlers, the Colts could take giant steps back in 2021.

Status: In Limbo

Jacksonville Jaguars- QB, OT, CB, TE, S, IDL

Urban Meyer takes over a losing organization with a pitiful culture and very few bright spots on the roster. We all expect Jacksonville to draft Trevor Lawrence, solidifying the start of a new era. However, there’s only so much Lawrence can do with the offensive line and receiving options he’s inheriting. Things aren’t great on defense either. The Jaguars finished 31st in yards and points allowed this season.

Status: Total Rebuild

Kansas City Chiefs- IOL, CB, EDGE

If the Chiefs walk away from the 2021 offseason with two new starters to replace free agents, they should enter next season as Super Bowl favorites. Kansas City could lose center Austin Reiter in free agency, but most of the other potential losses aren’t back-breaking. A few more rotational players at defensive end or cornerback could go a long way.

Status: Super Bowl Contenders

Las Vegas Raiders- EDGE, WR, LB, IDL

After royally screwing up the 2020 draft, Jon Gruden’s team can’t make any more mistakes. The 8-8 Raiders blew an excellent start to the year by losing five of their last seven games. Las Vegas lacks defensive talent. The team finished 25th in yards allowed and 29th in sacks this season. If Gruden can reshape that side of the ball and get Derek Carr someone to throw the ball to besides Darren Waller, maybe the Raiders could sniff the playoffs.

Status: 8-8 Team

Los Angeles Chargers- OT, IOL, CB, EDGE, TE

The Chargers have plenty of pieces that could contribute on a championship team, but they have too many holes. Los Angeles should bring in at least two new starters on the offensive line and need to re-sign Hunter Henry. The defense needs a replacement for Melvin Ingram and someone that could take over for the aging Casey Hayward as a top cover corner.

Status: Two Years Away

Los Angeles Rams- OT, EDGE, IOL

At 39 years old, Andrew Whitworth can’t keep Stafford clean forever. Speaking of keeping Stafford out of trouble, the Rams could use some reinforcements on the interior offensive line. Jared Goff peaked in L.A. when he had a great line and solid running game. Sean McVay needs to get his team back to that point. On defense, Los Angeles has to replace Leonard Floyd’s 10.5 sacks, Troy Hill’s three defensive touchdowns, and John Johnson’s 105 tackles.

Status: Re-Tooling

Miami Dolphins- WR, LB, S

Brian Flores’ team missed the playoffs despite going 10-6. One more star addition could push this team into Super Bowl contention, depending on your opinion of Tua Tagovailoa. Pairing another star receiver with DeVante Parker could take Miami’s offense to another level. The defense is already strong, but a few upgrades wouldn’t hurt.

Status: One Draft Away

Minnesota Vikings- IOL, OT, S

Kirk Cousins and the Vikings turned in a disappointing 7-9 finish this season. However, the team still features plenty of talented stars. The skill position play is top-notch, but the offensive line needs a near-complete makeover. The secondary features several promising players, but free agent Anthony Harris probably won’t be one of them in 2021.

Status: Re-Tooling

New England Patriots- QB, WR, TE

Bill Belichick isn’t re-signing Cam Newton after the former MVP threw more interceptions than touchdowns in 2020. However, Newton didn’t have a great supporting cast either. The offense had no notable receiving threats once 34-year-old Julian Edelman went down. The offensive line could become an issue if guard Joe Thuney leaves in free agency, and cornerback might emerge as a need if Belichick parts ways with Stephon Gilmore.

Status: Re-Tooling

New Orleans Saints- QB, LB, S

Despite going 12-4, the Saints are on the cusp of entering a full rebuild. The team’s cap situation is horrendous, which could lead to several prominent players getting traded or cut. Drew Brees hasn’t officially retired yet either, creating even more uncertainty. Alex Anzalone, Jared Cook, Trey Hendrickson, Marcus Williams, and Jameis Winston are free agents this spring.

Status: Declining

New York Giants- QB, EDGE, WR, LB, OT

Joe Judge made the most of his first year with the Giants, but the team won’t overcome its shortcomings simply by working hard. Daniel Jones was awful, and most of his receivers were just as bad. New York needs a true No. 1 wide receiver to go along with some offensive line help. Andrew Thomas wasn’t great as a rookie, and Nate Solder, who was terrible in 2019, should rejoin the team for 2021. Neither of those options is impressive.

On defense, the Giants could use a linebacker to pair with Blake Martinez. The prospect of losing Leonard Williams, who had as many sacks as New York’s next three leading pass rushers combined, to free agency should give Judge nightmares.

Status: Two Years Away

New York Jets- CB, RB, WR, EDGE, IOL, TE, S

New York needs everything. I’m a Sam Darnold apologist, but many people believe that the Jets should move on from the former 3rd overall pick. Even if quarterback isn’t an issue, the Jets have very few impact offensive players besides Mekhi Becton, Jamison Crowder, and Denzel Mims. Robert Saleh needs at least one new starting corner on defense, and the team could land in hot water if they don’t re-sign Marcus Maye.

Status: Total Rebuild

Philadelphia Eagles- WR, CB, S, LB

The Eagles used a first-round pick on Jalen Reagor last year instead of taking Justin Jefferson. It’s time to take another shot at landing a top playmaker. New head coach Nick Sirianni needs to completely re-arrange his aging defensive backfield, and better linebacker play could go a long way. Philadelphia hasn’t employed a notable linebacker since DeMeco Ryans.

Status: Declining

Pittsburgh Steelers- OT, IOL, QB, RB

Free agency, old age, and the salary cap are against Pittsburgh this offseason. Guard Matt Feiler and left tackle Alejandro Villanueva are free agents, and Maurkice Pouncey isn’t sure if he’ll play in 2021. Ben Roethlisberger’s decline came swiftly and painfully in 2020, and the complete lack of a running game didn’t help buoy the drowning offense.

Status: Declining

San Francisco 49ers- CB, IOL, QB

If not for injuries decimating the 49ers, they would’ve challenged Seattle for the NFC West division title in 2020. Now, the organization gets Nick Bosa, George Kittle, Raheem Mostert, and Deebo Samuel back. With so much potential, Kyle Shanahan could move on from often-injured quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. He’ll also have to replace Richard Sherman and Jason Verrett.

Status: One Draft Away

Seattle Seahawks- OT, IOL, CB, EDGE, RB, TE

Russell Wilson can’t continue playing behind one of the NFL’s worst offensive lines. It’s time for Pete Carroll and John Schneider to protect their future Hall of Fame quarterback. Will Dissly’s disappointing 2020 season and Greg Olsen’s retirement open a spot at tight end. Seattle surprisingly produced 46 sacks in 2020 without a star edge rusher, which makes cornerback a greater need. Quinton Dunbar and Shaquill Griffin are free agents.

Status: One Draft Away

Tampa Bay Buccaneers- EDGE, LB, WR, CB

The Buccaneers are in danger of losing Shaquil Barrett, Lavonte David, and Ndamukong Suh to free agency. Antonio Brown and Chris Godwin could leave too, but that still leaves Tampa Bay with Mike Evans, Tyler Johnson, and Scotty Miller. The defense was the difference-maker for Tampa Bay against Green Bay and New Orleans. With Tom Brady entering his age 44 season, the Buccaneers can’t suffer a drop-off defensively.

Status: Super Bowl Contenders

Tennessee Titans- EDGE, CB, TE, LB, WR

Derrick Henry and Ryan Tannehill carried Tennessee to 11 wins in 2020, but the defense ranked 28th in yards allowed. Mike Vrabel’s defense also finished 30th in sacks with 19. The Titans desperately need pass rushers, but they could take a long look at the questionable linebacker and cornerback play too. Jonnu Smith entering free agency creates a hole at tight end.

Status: One Draft Away

Washington Football Team- QB, OT, WR, CB, LB

Washington won the NFC East this past season with a 7-9 record. However, the team’s status remains up in the air. Even if quarterback Alex Smith returns for 2021, he’s not capable of getting Ron Rivera’s team over the hump. Washington needs a new passer, someone to complement Terry McLaurin, and a starting left tackle.

While the defensive front anchored Washington’s rising defense in 2020, the second and third levels could use some new additions. Ronald Darby hitting free agency opens a significant void in the team’s secondary.

Status: In Limbo

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