Category Archives: Green Bay Packers

2018 NFC North Predictions

  1. Minnesota Vikings

The Vikings came close to reaching the super bowl last season and there is a chance that they could be even better this season. They have starting running back Dalvin Cook who will be back from injury in 2018 and they have Latavius Murray as a solid backup at the position as well. They also have some really good pass-catchers led by Adam Thielen, Stefon Diggs, and Kyle Rudolph. The offensive line is probably the weakest part of the entire Vikings team and that could really hold the offense back in 2018. However, Minnesota likely upgraded at the most important position by signing pro-bowl quarterback Kirk Cousins to a massive contract this offseason. The Vikings did well with Case Keenum last season, although Cousins has been a better quarterback throughout his career. Cousins won’t have to do too much since Minnesota has a very talented defense, but he just strengthens the quarterback position for Minnesota. Meanwhile, Minnesota’s defense is arguably the strength of the team. They have arguably the best defensive lines in the NFL as they have a terrific pass rush duo with Everson Griffen and Danielle Hunter. However, they are even stronger at defensive tackle with the addition of Sheldon Richardson this offseason and he will form a really good starting duo along with Linval Joseph. Also, the Vikings have a couple of really good young linebackers with Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks. Not to mention, the Vikings are extremely deep at cornerback with Xavier Rhodes, Trae Waynes, Terence Newman, Mackensie Alexander, and rookie 1st round pick Mike Hughes. Overall, the Vikings don’t have much of a weakness on offense or defense and they appear to be legitimate super bowl contenders heading into next season.

2. Green Bay Packers

The Vikings are probably the most talented team in the division, but the Packers will likely make a strong push to win the division in 2018. Green Bay has plenty of firepower on offense as they have a couple of really good wide receivers with Davante Adams and Randall Cobb, although the departure of Jordy Nelson will hurt that position group. However, the Packers made up for it by signing star tight end Jimmy Graham this offseason and that is a major upgrade for the team at that position. Meanwhile, the running back position has some good depth, but they really don’t have a clear starter. They have Ty Montgomery, Jamaal Williams, and Aaron Jones as potential options in the backfield. However, it will be interesting to see which running back will get the most carries this season. The Packers have a really good passing game, but they will need more balance from their running backs this season. Green Bay also has some issues along the offensive line especially on the interior offensive line. Green Bay still has arguably the best quarterback in the NFL with Aaron Rodgers and as long as he stays healthy then the Packers should be a playoff contender once again. Meanwhile, the Packers defense might actually be the strength of the entire team. The Packers have an elite pass rush led by Clay Matthews and Nick Perry. However, the addition of Muhammad Wilkerson should make Green Bay’s pass rush even more dangerous. Green Bay does have some weakness in their secondary as it is extremely inexperienced. However, they do have some terrific talent in the secondary led by star safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and rookie 1st round cornerback Jaire Alexander. The secondary has high potential, but it also has a risk of failure as well. If the secondary can perform well then the Packers could have a strong defense in 2018. Overall, the Packers just missed out on the playoffs last season and that was mostly because Aaron Rodgers missed most of the season. However, if he can stay healthy then there really isn’t much doubt that this team has a really good chance of making the playoffs.

3. Detroit Lions

It is a year of transition for Detroit as they have Matt Patricia as their new head coach heading into 2018. However, don’t forget that the Lions were actually a good team last season as they just missed out on the playoffs with a 9-7 record. There is no doubt that the Lions are really dangerous on offense especially in the passing game. Matthew Stafford is an above average quarterback and he has some really good wide receivers to throw to with Golden Tate, Marvin Jones, and Kenny Golladay. Also, he should have an improved offensive line this season especially with the addition of rookie guard Frank Ragnow. However, the key to the success of the offense will be the running game as that is something that they have struggled with for many years. The addition of rookie 2nd round pick Kerryon Johnson and the signing of veteran running back LeGarrette Blount should give a big boost to that group. They also have Theo Riddick and Ameer Abdullah who could compete for some playing time as well. Either way, the Lions have a deep running back group, but it is unknown which player will have the most carries. If the Lions can just be average running the ball then it will make Detroit’s offense even better. Meanwhile, the Lions defense actually wasn’t that bad last season mainly because their secondary played really well last season. They have one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL with Darius Slay and they also have a terrific safety with Glover Quin. However, the Lions also have a solid pass rush led by elite defensive end Ziggy Ansah. They also have starting defensive end Anthony Zettel who provided a solid 6.5 sacks last season. The Lions have some holes on the defense especially at outside linebacker, but their defense should be decent as long as their secondary and pass rush to continue to lead the way. Overall, the Lions are a good team, but they just play in what is likely to be a very tough division this year. However, the Lions have a very talented team that is capable of being a playoff contender once again in 2018.

4. Chicago Bears

The Chicago Bears have some hope for this year as Mitchell Trubisky heads into his first full season as an NFL starting quarterback. However, the Bears are still a team that is in transition with new head coach Matt Nagy and they unfortunately play in a tough division as well. The Bears did add some more talent to their offense this season though as they signed pro-bowl receiver Allen Robinson and tight end Trey Burton. The Bears still don’t have a very good receiver group, but it is better than what they had a year ago. The strength of the Bears offense though is still at the running back position as Jordan Howard has established himself as one of the best running backs in the NFL. Also, they have Tarik Cohen who is a terrific 3rd-down back. Both of those guys will be important since they help to take a lot of pressure off of Trubisky and the passing game. The Bears offensive line is somewhat concerning, but it is still decent with Kyle Long and Charles Leno. The Bears offense should be better this season, but it all depends on how Trubisky progresses in his 2nd NFL season. Meanwhile, the Bears have one of the most underrated defenses in the entire NFL. Akiem Hicks provides the team with their main source of pass rush as he had 8.5 sacks last season, but the rest of the defensive line is a major weakness. They need other pass rushers like Leonard Floyd to step up and have a better year than they did in 2017. The linebacker position is looking stronger this season for the Bears as they added rookie 1st round pick Roquan Smith to go along with veteran linebacker Danny Trevathan. The Bears also have a somewhat strong secondary led by cornerback Kyle Fuller and safety Eddie Jackson. Chicago has some good players on both sides of the ball, but they still have too many holes to fill. Also, I’m just not quite sure how well Mitchell Trubisky will develop at the quarterback position.

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Best pick for every NFL team in the draft

Arizona Cardinals – Christian Kirk – Wide Receiver – Texas A&M – Drafted: 2nd Round

The Cardinals selection of quarterback Josh Rosen gets all of the hype and that is understandable since he has the chance to be the face of the franchise for many years. However, the pick that excites me the most is wide receiver Christian Kirk who they picked in the 2nd round of the draft. The Cardinals have Larry Fitzgerald as their top receiver, but he is about to be 35 years old and he might not be in the NFL much longer. The Cardinals didn’t really have much behind him on the depth chart and they certainly didn’t have a reliable 2nd option at the receiver position. Christian Kirk is a terrific wide receiver who has the speed to be a vertical threat and he has the ability to make contested catches as well. This is the perfect situation for him to be able to learn from a great receiver like Fitzgerald and this pick gives the Cardinals their receiver of the future.

Atlanta Falcons – Isaiah Oliver – Cornerback – Colorado – Drafted: 2nd Round

Cornerback wasn’t a big need for the Falcons coming into the draft as they already have two really good cornerbacks with Desmond Trufant and Robert Alford. However, Oliver gives the team some solid depth at the cornerback position and it will allow them more flexibility at the position. Oliver has good size, speed, and arm length which will make him a good outside cornerback. However, this move is good for the Falcons as it allows them to probably move the smaller cornerback Alford to the slot where he probably fits best. Oliver is a 1st round talent and it is remarkable that the Falcons were able to select him this far back in the 2nd round.

Baltimore Ravens – Lamar Jackson – Quarterback – Louisville – Drafted: 1st Round

The Ravens offense has not been good recently and most of that is due to the lack of playmakers on offense as well as the inconsistent play from quarterback Joe Flacco. The selection of Lamar Jackson solves both of these issues for the Ravens. Jackson is a dynamic playmaker especially since he is one of the best dual-threat quarterbacks in college history. Jackson has some work to do passing the ball as he has some mechanical issues and accuracy concerns. However, Jackson has a good arm and the mechanical issues should be able to be solved at the NFL level. Jackson is a decent quarterback, but what makes him such a great player is his ability to make plays running the ball. He might not be the starter right away at quarterback, but he will at least put some pressure on Flacco to improve next season. Also, Jackson should instill much more explosiveness for the Ravens offense for many years to come.

Buffalo Bills – Tremaine Edmunds – Outside Linebacker – Virginia Tech – Drafted: 1st Round

I don’t particularly like that the Bills gave up draft picks to move up and get Edmunds, but it is kind of hard to blame them for doing so considering his talent. Edmunds is a top 10 talent that they got with the 16th overall pick, so they definitely got some good value with this pick. Edmunds is a really fast and explosive linebacker that consistently makes plays all over the field. The Bills had a big need for help at linebacker especially after the departure of Preston Brown in free agency. However, Edmunds will instill some more playmaking ability to the Bills defense and he is ready to make an impact right away.

Carolina Panthers – Donte Jackson – Cornerback – LSU – Drafted: 2nd Round

The secondary has been a point of issue for the Panthers ever since Josh Norman left and it was a big need for the Panthers coming into the draft. However, Jackson is an impact player that should help Carolina right away. Jackson is one of the fastest players as he ran a 4.32 40-yard dash at the NFL combine. He doesn’t have the size to compare to some of the big receivers in the NFL like Mike Evans and Julio Jones, but he will compete and he has a knack for making big plays. This selection fills a big need for the Panthers especially when they have to face three pro-bowl caliber quarterbacks in their division.

Chicago Bears – Roquan Smith – Inside Linebacker – Georgia – Drafted: 1st Round

Roquan Smith is one of my favorite players in the entire draft mostly because he is a hard-hitter that has the athleticism to make plays all over the field. Smith is one of the best defensive players in the draft and he fills a need for the Bears at linebacker. The Bears badly needed some more athleticism and playmaking ability on defense, so this is the type of pick that will accomplish that. Smith can make an impact right away and he has the potential to be an all-pro linebacker in the NFL.

Cincinnati Bengals – Malik Jefferson – Outside Linebacker – Texas – Drafted: 3rd Round

This guy had an inconsistent career at Texas as he wasn’t particularly great during his first year. However, he really stepped up his play over the past 2 years and he looked like one of the best linebackers in the draft class as he had 79 tackles and 4 sacks last season. Jefferson is a good cover linebacker and he is a really useful player in space which is something that the Bengals had been lacking from their linebackers. He should make an impact right away with Vontaze Burfict suspended for the first 4 games of the season. However, he could compete for the starting job opposite of Burfict if he plays well while he fills in for Burfict. This pick provides much more athleticism for the Bengals defense and it should improve their linebacker group.

Cleveland Browns – Nick Chubb – Running Back – Georgia – Drafted: 2nd Round

The Cleveland Browns have their solution at the quarterback position, but another area of concern for the Browns was at the running back position. Cleveland did add Carlos Hyde in free agency, but he is a good pass-catcher which makes him a valuable 3rd down back. Cleveland needed to find an early-down back that could provide some power and they did so by drafting Nick Chubb in the 2nd round of the draft. Chubb is only a 1st or 2nd round back because he isn’t a very good pass catcher, yet he is the perfect complement to Hyde in the Browns running game. Chubb will provide more balance to the Browns offense and it will help take some of the pressure off of rookie QB Baker Mayfield.

Dallas Cowboys – Connor Williams – Offensive Tackle – Texas – Drafted: 2nd Round

The Cowboys have plenty of offensive line talent, but there are still a couple of positions where they need some help. Dallas especially needed to add some competition at right tackle or left guard and the good news is that Williams could be a good fit at either spot. Williams really was a top 10 talent not too long ago and it is good value for the Cowboys to be able to get him this late in the 2nd round. Williams will likely be the future starter at right tackle and he could even compete for the job right away.

Denver Broncos – Royce Freeman – Running Back – Oregon – Drafted: 3rd Round

Royce Freeman was as productive as any NFL running back in this draft class and he could be a steal for the Broncos in the 3rd round. Freeman has good size, but he also has very good speed. He helps to fill a big need for Denver after they released running back C.J. Anderson this offseason. However, Freeman can make a big impact for the Broncos right away as he will likely split carries with Devontae Booker. Freeman will provide more balance for Denver’s offense and he can help the Broncos win immediately.

Detroit Lions – Tyrell Crosby – Offensive Tackle – Oregon Drafted: 5th Round

It is kind of surprising that Crosby fell to the 5th round of the draft, but the Lions could still be getting good value if he lives up to his potential. Detroit needed some offensive line depth and he could be a really good backup offensive tackle in the NFL. He likely won’t make much of an impact right away, but he has the potential to be a starting right tackle at some point.

Green Bay Packers – Equanimeous St. Brown – Wide Receiver – Notre Dame – Drafted: 6th Round

Equanimeous St. Brown not only has a terrific name, but he is a very good NFL prospect as well. He is a a very big receiver at 6’5″, but he has rare speed for someone of his size as he ran 4.48 during the 40-yard dash at the combine. Sure, he didn’t have very good production during his time at Notre Dame. However, he is a talented prospect and it will help that he has Aaron Rodgers throwing him the ball. St. Brown has a good chance to carve a role out in the Packers offense and if he does then he has the potential to be a productive receiver for them.

Houston Texans – Justin Reid – Safety – Stanford – Drafted: 3rd Round

The Houston Texans didn’t even have a pick until round 3, but they certainly got good value out of their first selection. Justin Reid is one of the most talented safeties in the entire draft as he has terrific speed and athleticism. He should have gone early in the 2nd round, but instead he fell an entire round right into the Texans spot. Reid can be an impact player right away and he fills a big need for the Texans.

Indianapolis Colts – Deon Cain – Wide Receiver – Clemson – Drafted: 6th Round

The Colts made a few good picks, but I chose this pick because it is the best value pick that they made in the draft. Deon Cain is an explosive receiver as proven by his 4.43 showing in the 40-yard dash at the combine. Cain is one of the best vertical threats in the entire draft and he should be able to make an impact right away. The Colts needed some receiver help and this guy just adds another weapon for quarterback Andrew Luck in the passing game. Cain was supposed to be a 4th round pick and I’m not quite sure why he fell so far, but he is a talented receiver that shouldn’t have even made it to the 6th round.

Jacksonville Jaguars – Ronnie Harrison – Safety – Alabama – Drafted: 3rd Round

Ronnie Harrison was supposed to be an early 2nd round pick, but he instead fell all the way late into the 3rd round. Harrison won’t likely be a starter right away, but he adds some quality depth to the Jaguars secondary. Harrison has the potential to be a starter in the NFL at some point, but Jacksonville is stacked with talent in the secondary so it might not be for awhile. Either way, Jacksonville got tremendous value with this pick and it just strengthens what was an already good defense.

Kansas City Chiefs – Derrick Nnadi – Defensive Tackle – Florida State – Drafted: 3rd Round

Dontari Poe didn’t make too much of a difference at defensive tackle for the Chiefs last season and the team had to fill his spot after he left in free agency. Derrick Nnadi has a chance to fill that void right away as he is a terrific run defender. That is important since Kansas City has struggled against the run in recent years. Nnadi can make an impact right away as a rotational player or he can even be a starter early on. Nnadi is a really talented player and he fills a big need for Kansas City.

Los Angeles Chargers – Derwin James – Safety – Florida State – Drafted: 1st Round

The Los Angeles Chargers already had a very talented defense, but safety was one of the spots where they could really use an upgrade. Not only did they fill that void, but they did it by drafting a high impact player in the 1st round. Derwin James is a top 10 talent for sure and he somehow fell all the way to the Chargers with the 17th overall pick. The Chargers got tremendous value with this pick and they are getting a player that can make an impact right away.

Los Angeles Rams – Obo Okoronkwo – Outside Linebacker – Oklahoma – Drafted: 5th Round

The Rams already have a talented defense, but the linebacker position is where the Rams could improve at. That is exactly what they did in the 5th round of the draft by selecting Obo Okoronkwo in the 5th round. He is a 3rd round talent, but for some reason he fell into the 5th round probably because scouts view him as undersized. However, Okoronkwo was very productive in college and he will at least provide the Rams a very good backup linebacker. It is even possible that he could challenge for a starting role right away, so the Rams are likely getting a steal with this pick.

Miami Dolphins – Kalen Ballage – Running Back – Arizona State – Drafted: 4th Round

Miami already added some much needed running back depth in free agency by signing Farnk Gore. However, Gore is getting old and Kenyan Drake is still unproven as the number 1 running back for Miami. Kalen Ballage will give the Dolphins some more depth at running back. He didn’t have much production during college, but he has all of the physical traits of an NFL running back. He has good size, speed, and pass-catching ability which will allow him to have at least some role in the Dolphins offense early on. Ballage probably won’t be a starter for awhile, but he is a talented running back that will take some of the pressure off of Kenyan Drake.

Minnesota Vikings – Mike Hughes – Cornerback – UCF – Drafted: 1st Round

The secondary was already a huge strength for the Vikings last season as Xavier Rhodes proved that he is one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL. However, the other cornerbacks on the roster were inconsistent. Trae Waynes has been good at times, but he is rather inconsistent and Terence Newman is highly likely to retire after this season. Mike Hughes is a terrific pick because he is a talented cornerback that has terrific speed to go with a good physical style of play. However, is a perfect fit for the Vikings since he won’t be asked to start right away, but he figures to be a starter for Minnesota for a long time.

New England Patriots – Sony Michel – Running Back – Georgia – Drafted: 1st Round

Sony Michel might be the most dynamic running back in this entire draft class as he has terrific speed and he is a tremendous pass-catcher as well. Michel is basically the definition of a 3-down running back, which is a very difficult type of player to find these days. The Patriots needed a running back after the departure of Dion Lewis and Michel figures to be an upgrade over what New England had last season. Michel fits the Patriots perfectly and he just adds another dynamic playmaker to help take the pressure off of Tom Brady.

New Orleans Saints – Natrell Jamerson – Safety – Wisconsin – Drafted: 5th Round

The late rounds are often where teams find players that can make an impact on special teams and that is exactly what the Saints found when they selected Natrell Jamerson in the 5th round. Jamerson probably won’t make much of an impact at safety, but he is an outstanding special teams player that gives New Orleans much more versatility. He is good on special teams coverage, yet he also is a dynamic kick returner. Jamerson provides some more depth at safety, but this is a good pick because the Saints can use him in a variety of ways.

New York Giants – Saquon Barkley – Running Back – Penn State – Drafted: 1st Round

Saquon Barkley is likely the best player in the NFL draft and he fills a huge need for the Giants as they have struggled tremendously to run the ball in recent years. It would be shocking if Barkley doesn’t come in and make a huge impact for the Giants right away as he has good size and tremendous breakaway speed. Barkley will not only improve the running game, but the most important thing is that he’ll take a lot of pressure off of Eli Manning. Barkley will help New York win right away and he adds another dynamic playmaker to the Giants offense.

New York Jets – Sam Darnold – Quarterback – USC – Drafted: 1st Round

The New York Jets already had 4 quarterbacks on their roster, but the problem is that none of them are the quarterback of the future. Sam Darnold is arguably the best quarterback in the draft and he is a terrific pocket passer. The only real concern about Darnold is that he turns the ball over too often, but if he can correct that then the Jets could be getting a pro-bowl quarterback.

Oakland Raiders – Maurice Hurst – Defensive Tackle – Michigan – Drafted: 5th Round

Hurst was one of the best defensive tackles in this draft and he is arguably a 1st round talent. However, he unfortunately he fell all the way to the 5th round because of a heart issue that was a major concern for teams. If Hurst’s health issue can be dealt with, then there is no question that the Raiders are getting terrific value with this pick. Hurst will be an upgrade at defensive tackle for Oakland and he can be a high impact player as long as he can stay healthy.

Philadelphia Eagles – Josh Sweat – Defensive End – Florida State – Drafted: 4th Round

The Eagles already had an extremely deep defensive line, which was one of the main reasons that they won the super bowl this past season. However, they are adding more depth to the position by selecting former Florida State defensive end Josh Sweat in the 4th round. It is a tremendous value pick for the Eagles since he is a 1st or 2nd round talent, but he fell so far because of injury concerns. Don’t expect Sweat to make much of an impact right away. However, he has the potential to be a starter for the Eagles at defensive end in a few years.

Pittsburgh Steelers – Mason Rudolph – Quarterback – Oklahoma State – Drafted: 3rd Round

This pick might not be liked by current starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, but the Steelers needed to find the long-term solution at quarterback for when Roethlisberger retires. Roethlisberger is 36 years old and he has seriously considered retirement in recent years, but the issue is that the Steelers didn’t have a plan if he were to suddenly retire. Mason Rudolph is one of the best quarterbacks in this draft and it is kind of surprising that he fell so far since he is clearly a 2nd round talent. Rudolph won’t make an impact right away since Roethlisberger is clearly going to be the starter. However, Rudolph now has a chance to develop at the NFL level and possibly become the starting quarterback for Pittsburgh in a few years. We’ll see if Rudolph can become the future starter at quarterback for the Steelers, but he at least gives the team a solid backup at the position.

San Francisco 49ers – Mike McGlinchey – Offensive Tackle – Notre Dame – Drafted: 1st Round

Mike McGlinchey wasn’t really a value pick for the 49ers, but it was a very good pick for the team nonetheless. The 49ers have their franchise quarterback with Jimmy Garoppolo, but it was important for them to be able to surround him with quality talent on offense. McGlinchey is a big addition for the 49ers as he can make an impact right away as the starting right tackle. However, McGlinchey also adds tons of value long-term for San Francisco as he is expected to take over the starting left tackle role once Joe Staley retires. McGlinchey is arguably the best offensive tackle in this draft and he is a player that will help the 49ers immediately and for many years to come.

Seattle Seahawks – Shaquem Griffin – Outside Linebacker – UCF – Drafted: 5th Round

This is definitely my favorite pick of the entire NFL draft, mostly because Griffin is such an inspirational story. Griffin has been doubted his entire life, but all he has done is prove everyone wrong. Many people think that he will be limited in the NFL, but he proved during college that he can be a dynamic playmaker. He might be undersized which is likely why he fell to the 5th round. However, he can make an impact on special teams right away and he likely can make an impact at outside linebacker if given the opportunity. This is the perfect situation for Shaquem Griffin to be in since he gets to play with his brother and he once again will be out to prove that he is a solid football player.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Ronald Jones – Running Back – USC – Drafted: 2nd Round

Running back was arguably the biggest need for the Buccaneers this offseason as it really held the offense back last season. Doug Martin was absolutely terrible as the starter for the Bucs last season and he was ultimately released by the team. Tampa Bay does have Peyton Barber who has become a productive running back in the NFL. However, it was clear that Tampa Bay needed a new starter and that is why they selected Ronald Jones in the 2nd round. Jones had a terrific college career at USC and he has tremendous speed to be able to make big plays. Jones might not be the starter right away, but he is the type of player that can give a major boost to Tampa Bay’s running game and take a lot of pressure off quarterback Jameis Winston.

Tennessee Titans – Luke Falk – Quarterback – Washington State – Drafted: 6th Round

Marcus Mariota is clearly the starter at quarterback for the Titans and he likely will be for a long time. However, the Titans haven’t really had a good backup quarterback in several years. Luke Falk should solve that issue as he has the potential to be a very good backup quarterback. Falk put up extremely impressive numbers at Washington State and what particularly stands out is that he only threw 39 interceptions compared to 119 career touchdowns. Falk is an NFL-ready quarterback and he provides much needed depth at the quarterback position right away for Tennessee. It is shocking that Falk fell this far in the draft as he is clearly a 3rd round talent. However, if he is given the opportunity then he could potentially develop into an NFL starting quarterback one day.

Washington Redskins – Derrius Guice – Running Back – LSU – Drafted: 2nd Round

The Redskins already had plenty of depth at the running back position, but the issue is that they didn’t have an established starter at the position. Derrius Guice fixes that issue as he is clearly projected to be the starter very soon for the Redskins. Guice has tremendous power, but he also has very good speed for his size as well. Guice could’ve been a 1st round talent, but he fell all the way late into the 2nd round because of character issues. If he can get his attitude in check, then there is no doubt that the Redskins are getting a very talented early-down running back.

Packers sign Wilkerson to a 1-year deal

Muhammad Wilkerson was once considered one of the elite pass rushers in the NFL. However, character issues and a lack of effort really derailed his career with the Jets and that is what led to his release prior to the start of free agency. Wilkerson now has a new team though as he signed a 1-year/$5 million contract with the Green Bay Packers on Wednesday. Wilkerson was arguably the best pass rusher available in free agency mostly because he is a terrific pass rusher especially considering that he is 315 pounds. There is no questioning that he has the talent to be an elite defensive end, but a lack of effort has been an issue for him in recent years. If Green Bay can motivate him to provide a more consistent effort then this could be the best signing of free agency. The Packers are only paying him $5 million which isn’t much considering his talent and it is only a 1-year deal, so there isn’t much risk to this signing. The Packers already had a couple of really good pass rushers with Nick Perry and Clay Matthews. However, if Wilkerson can play like he did in 2015 when he had 12 sacks then the Packers could have the best pass rush of any team in the NFL. We’ll see if Wilkerson can provide a consistent level of production for Green Bay, but even if he doesn’t then the Packers still should have a good starting defensive end. There is really no risk to this deal and there is potential for the Packers to get a very high reward which is why this is a terrific signing.

Grade: A

muhammad wilkerson

Browns trade Kizer to the Packers for Randall

The Cleveland Browns traded quarterback DeShone Kizer to the Green Bay Packers in exchange for cornerback Damarious Randall. Also, the teams will swap 4th and 5th round picks in the 2018 NFL Draft.

 

Packers analysis/grade:

This is an interesting move for the Packers to make as they clearly needed a better backup quarterback. However, most people just assumed that they would just sign a veteran backup quarterback in free agency. The Packers decided not to go that route as they are now acquiring DeShone Kizer who is a young quarterback with tremendous potential. Kizer struggled as a rookie last year for Cleveland as he went 0-15 as the team’s starting quarterback and he threw 22 interceptions compared to only 11 touchdowns. He clearly isn’t ready to be an NFL starting quarterback, but now he is in a perfect situation where he can learn from future hall-of-fame quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Kizer gives the Packers a much better 2nd-string quarterback and someone who can fill in more effectively if Rodgers gets injured again. Also, Kizer is only 22 years old and if the Packers can develop him correctly then maybe he could be the potential starting quarterback for Green Bay once Rodgers retires. However, the Packers probably did give up too much in return for Kizer. Green Bay gave up young cornerback Damarious Randall who was a 1st round pick just a few years ago. Randall has struggled with injuries and he hasn’t gotten along very well with the coaching staff. However, it is still shocking that the Packers would trade him considering that he has been a productive player for the team and the Packers were already thin at the cornerback position. This trade doesn’t make the Packers better in the short-term. It could possibly pay off long-term if Kizer can continue to develop, but this just isn’t a good trade overall.

Grade: C

 

Browns analysis/grade:

This trade makes a lot of sense for the Browns as it makes their team better in many aspects. Sure, the Browns are giving up on Kizer only a year after they drafted him in the 2nd round of the 2017 draft. However, Kizer proved last year that he wasn’t a short-term or long-term solution for Cleveland at the quarterback position. Also, Kizer became expendable after the team acquired quarterback Tyrod Taylor from the Bills who will be Cleveland’s temporary starter at that position. The team also is extremely likely to draft a quarterback early on in the draft which means that Kizer wouldn’t really have a spot on the roster. The Browns are also improving their team in another area by acquiring young cornerback Damrious Randall in this trade. Randall is a talented young cornerback who was a 1st round pick just a few years ago. We’ll see how well Randall interacts with the Browns coaching staff and how well he fits in with the team. However, Randall can be a very good starting cornerback and he will improve what was a rather weak secondary for the Browns last season. This is definitely a terrific trade for Cleveland as it will improve their team for the 2018 season and probably long-term as well.

Grade: A+

deshone kizer

Player that each team should cut this offseason

Arizona Cardinals – Adrian Peterson – Running Back

Adrian Peterson was a good short-term solution at the running back position for the Cardinals after David Johnson’s injury last season. However, Peterson isn’t the star player that he once was and now that Johnson is back the team doesn’t need him anymore. Arizona can save $2.9 million against the cap by releasing Peterson and they could then find a backup running back cheaper in the draft or free agency.

 

Atlanta Falcons – Brooks Reed – Outside Linebacker

The Atlanta Falcons don’t have many players that they could release, but one guy that could be on his way out is outside linebacker Brooks Reed. Atlanta could save $3.56 million in 2018 by releasing Reed and that would be a substantial amount of cap space to save. Reed is a key role player for Atlanta’s defense, but he only had 4 sacks last season and the Falcons could probably find a younger and cheaper option at outside linebacker this offseason.

 

Baltimore Ravens – Jeremy Maclin – Wide Receiver

Jeremy Maclin wasn’t very productive in his first season with Baltimore as he only had 40 receptions for 440 yards. Maclin also struggled to stay healthy last season and it appears that the Ravens are ready to move on from him this offseason. The Ravens could save $5 million in cap space if they release Maclin so it would would be extremely shocking if he is a member of the Ravens next season.

 

Buffalo Bills – Tyrod Taylor – Quarterback

Tyrod Taylor has been a decent quarterback for the Bills, but he also has been inconsistent and he hasn’t proven that he can be their franchise quarterback. The Bills coaching staff doesn’t appear to be very confident in Taylor as their starting quarterback so it seems very likely that they will find his replacement this offseason. Buffalo also has a tremendous financial incentive to release Taylor. They can save $15 million if they release him after June 1st or they can save about $10 million if they release him prior to that date. Either way, it appears the Bills will have a new starting quarterback next season as the Bills can save a ton of money by moving on from Tyrod Taylor.

 

Carolina Panthers – Jonathan Stewart – Running Back

Christian McCaffrey was a top 10 pick by the Panthers at the running back position last season, so the Panthers could decide to make him their full-time starter at running back in 2018. If the Panthers decide to go that route then it could make current early-down back Jonathan Stewart expendable. Stewart is still a somewhat productive running back, although he isn’t getting younger and the Panthers are already deep at the position. The Panthers could keep him around for another season or they could cut ties with him this offseason and save $3.7 million in cap space.

 

Chicago Bears – Mike Glennon – Quarterback

The Chicago Bears made a mistake by signing Mike Glennon to a big contract in free agency last offseason especially considering they drafted Mitchell Trubisky less than two months after signing Glennon. Trubisky is now the clear starter for the Bears moving forward and that means Glennon and his big contract is sitting on the bench. Chicago can save a whopping $11.5 million in cap space if they release Glennon this offseason. The Bears can find a much cheaper backup QB in free agency and it would be shocking if they don’t let Glennon go very soon.

 

Cincinnati Bengals – Adam Jones – Cornerback

Adam Jones saw his role diminish significantly last season as the Bengals have much younger cornerbacks starting at the position. Jones has a lot of money owed to him next season and the Bengals could save $5.8 million in cap space by releasing him this offseason. Jones has been with the Bengals for awhile now, but considering his age, large contract, and diminished role it makes it highly likely that he won’t be back with the team next season.

 

Cleveland Browns – Cody Kessler – Quarterback

The Browns don’t really have any veteran players that are danger of being cut this offseason. However, Cody Kessler is the one player that could be in danger of being released this offseason. The main reason is not because Kessler is making much money at all, but Cleveland is just really deep at the quarterback position. The Browns are likely to draft a quarterback with the 1st overall pick and that means DeShone Kizer would now become the new backup QB. That means Kessler would be the 3rd-string QB for the Browns in 2018 and basically every NFL team only carries two QB’s on their active roster. Kessler just doesn’t have a role on this team any more and the team can save about $600,000 while letting him have a better role as a backup elsewhere.

 

Dallas Cowboys – Benson Mayowa – Defensive End

Benson Mayowa’s production and role has diminished for the Cowboys as he only had 1 sack for the team last season. The team needs to find another backup defensive end that can be an upgrade over Mayowa. However, the Cowboys could save $2.75 million in cap space by releasing Mayowa which is a considerable amount considering his decreased role with the team.

 

Denver Broncos – Aqib Talib – Cornerback

Aqib Talib is still a pro-bowl caliber cornerback, but the issue is the Broncos are already paying tons of money to Chris Harris and Bradley Roby at the cornerback position. The Broncos can save $11 million by releasing Talib this offseason and that is a considerable amount especially since the Broncos don’t have tons of cap room to begin with. Talib is still a productive player, but Denver is deep enough at cornerback already and they can save a large amount of money by releasing him.

 

Detroit Lions – Ameer Abdullah – Running Back

The Detroit Lions are probably looking to upgrade at the running back position this offseason as Theo Riddick and Ameer Abdullah have proven that they aren’t capable starters at the position. However, it is more likely that the team will keep Riddick as the 2nd running back on the depth chart because of his pass-catching abilities. That would essentially leave Abdullah as the 3rd-string running back and the team could just release him since he wouldn’t really have a role with the team anymore. Releasing Abdullah would only save the Lions about $1 million in space space, yet if the Lions upgrade at running back this offseason then it would likely leave Abdullah without a role.

 

Green Bay Packers – James Starks – Running Back

James Starks was once a very reliable backup running back for the Packers, but now he isn’t even a reliable backup as he averaged a terrible 2.3 yards per carry last season. The Packers can save $3 million by releasing Starks this offseason and they could then use that money to find a better backup at running back. Starks won’t have much of a role in 2018 so it makes sense for the Packers to let him go and save a decent amount of money.

 

Houston Texans – Brian Cushing – Inside Linebacker

Brian Cushing has spent his entire career with the Houston Texans since he was drafted in the 1st round of the 2009 NFL draft. However, Cushing’s time with the Texans might be coming to a close as he is a likely candidate to be released this offseason. Cushing certainly isn’t getting any younger as he is 31 years old and he hasn’t been very productive for Houston recently. Cushing also has some off-the-field concerns as he has been suspended twice in his career for PED use. Also, Cushing has struggled to stay healthy in recent years and he only played in 5 games last season mostly due to a 10-game PED suspension. Either way, Cushing is more trouble than he’s worth especially since the Texans can save a whopping $7.64 million in cap space by releasing him. Cushing could return in 2018 since he is still a decent starting linebacker, but the Texans could look for a younger and cheaper linebacker to take his place.

 

Indianapolis Colts – Margus Hunt – Defensive End

Margus Hunt had the best year of his NFL career last season with Indianapolis, but he still only had 29 tackles and 1 sack. Hunt is a decent backup defensive end, but he won’t help much if he isn’t able to provide a pass rush at some point. The Colts could choose to keep Hunt for defensive end depth in 2018, although the Colts might be able to find a younger and cheaper option than him this offseason. Indianapolis could create $2.5 million in cap space by releasing Hunt and they could then use that money to find a better backup defensive end that can actually provide a pass rush.

 

Jacksonville Jaguars – Allen Hurns – Wide Receiver

The Jaguars seemed like they made the right move by signing Allen Hurns to a 4-year/$40 million extension after the 2015 season. However, Hurns has been a major bust since that point as he has failed to have over 500 receiving yards during the past 2 seasons. Injuries have been an issue recently for Hurns as he missed 6 games this past season and 5 games during the previous season, yet he hasn’t been very productive even when on the field. Hurns has also been surpassed on the depth chart by young receivers Dede Westbrook and Keelan Cole which makes him even more expendable. The good news is that the Jaguars can release him this offseason and create $7 million in cap space. It would be absolutely shocking if Hurns is on the Jaguars roster next season unless he agrees to take a significant pay cut which he is unlikely to do.

 

Kansas City Chiefs – Tamba Hali – Outside Linebacker

Tamba Hali has been a cornerstone of the Chiefs defense ever since he was drafted by the team in the 1st round of the 2006 draft. However, Hali is 34 years old and he isn’t the pass rusher that he once was several years ago. Hali only had 1 tackle in 5 games last season for the Chiefs as his role was clearly diminished. The Chiefs already have two good pass rushers with Justin Houston and Dee Ford, so Hali is basically expendable especially considering his cap hit. It would be great to see Hali finish his career with Kansas City, but they will likely have to release him since it would free up about $7.69 million in cap space. It will be painful for the Chiefs to release him considering what he has done for the franchise, although they need cap space desperately and Hali isn’t worth nearly the amount that he is currently getting paid.

 

Los Angeles Chargers – Brandon Mebane – Defensive Tackle

Brandon Mebane is 33 years old and he isn’t the quality starting defensive tackle that he once was with the Seahawks. He has never been much of a pass rusher, but now he isn’t even very good at stopping the run. The Chargers could keep him around as he provides some depth at defensive tackle. However, the Chargers can free up $4.5 million in cap space if they release Mebane this offseason. Los Angeles will likely look for a younger option at the position in the draft and let go of Mebane since he isn’t really worth his $5.5 million cap hit.

 

Los Angeles Rams – Tavon Austin – Wide Receiver

We all know that Tavon Austin has the potential to be a game-changer for the Rams, but the issue is that he isn’t consistent or reliable enough in their offense. He only had 13 receptions for only 47 yards and he wasn’t very helpful when running the ball either. Austin definitely isn’t worth the $8 million cap hit that he will have next season especially since the Rams have plenty of young talent at wide receiver. Austin’s role clearly is minimal for the Rams offense and the team would be wise to just get rid of him and clear up $3 million in cap space.

 

Miami Dolphins – Ja’Wuan James – Offensive Tackle

Ja’Wuan James has been a decent starting offensive tackle for the Dolphins, but in no way is he worth the $9.34 million that he is owed next season. James has dealt with injuries and he hasn’t been very productive even when he was healthy. The Dolphins can release him and clear up all of the cap space that he is owed, so unless he restructures his deal then it is very unlikely that he will back next season.

 

Minnesota Vikings – Jarius Wright – Wide Receiver

Jarius Wright has clearly fallen dramatically on the Vikings depth chart as he is only their 4th receiver at best heading into next season and he only had 18 catches this year for the team. The Vikings can find a much cheaper option as a 4th receiver than Wright who is owed $4.76 million next season. Minnesota can save $2.64 million in space by releasing Wright and it seems that’s what they’ll do considering he doesn’t have much of a role in Minnesota’s offense anymore.

 

New England Patriots – Martellus Bennett – Tight End

Martellus Bennett returned to New England late last season and he had a very minimal impact as he only had 6 catches in 2 games played for the Patriots. Bennett is due $6.1 million next season which is way too much to be paying a backup tight end. The Patriots could try to restructure his contract, but it is unlikely that he would be willing to take a steep pay cut. Either way, the Patriots can clear up $6.1 million in cap space if they release him which makes it very unlikely that he will return next season.

 

New Orleans Saints – Coby Fleener – Tight End

The Saints signed Coby Fleener to a huge 5-year/$36 million contract thinking that he would make a huge impact on their offense. However, Fleener has yet to do so as he only had 22 catches and 295 receiving yards last season. The Saints still owe him some guaranteed money so it will cost them $200,000 if they release him prior to June 1st. However, the team can free up $3 million in cap space if they release him after that date which seems likely considering his role has diminished in the Saints offense.

 

New York Giants – Eli Manning – Quarterback

It is very likely that the Giants will select a quarterback with the 2nd overall pick in the draft and that means that longtime starting quarterback Eli Manning might not even have a roster spot next season. Manning is clearly not the same player that he used to be as he is 37 years old and at the back end of his career. Also, Manning has a ridiculous $22.2 million cap hit just for next season and the Giants could clear up considerable cap space by releasing him. The question is whether the team will keep Manning around to mentor a young quarterback and be a short-term solution at the position. New York can clear up $9.8 million in cap space if they release Manning so it is unlikely that they keep him unless he is going to be the starter next season.

 

New York Jets – Muhammad Wilkerson – Defensive End

The Jets took a huge risk when they gave defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson a 5-year/$86 million contract after the 2015 season. However, the deal has ended up being a huge bust for the Jets as he only has 8 sacks combined the past 2 seasons for the team. Wilkerson has been a major issue for the team with his character concerns as he has been benched many times including the final 3 games of 2017 when he wasn’t even activated. Wilkerson is due $20 million next season and there is no possible way that the Jets will want to pay that. The Jets can save $11 million in cap space by releasing Wilkerson and it would be absolutely shocking if he returns to the team in 2018.

 

Oakland Raiders – Sean Smith – Cornerback

Sean Smith played better towards the end of last season, but he just isn’t worth the $8.5 million cap hit that he is due next season. The best part for the Raiders is that they can release him and owe him none of that money, therefore clearing up $8.5 million in cap space. Oakland has some major work to do at the cornerback position this offseason and it appears that Smith won’t be in their plans for the 2018 season.

 

Philadelphia Eagles – Torrey Smith – Wide Receiver

The Eagles gave Torrey Smith a decent contract last offseason hoping that he could revive his NFL career and be a contributor to the Eagles passing game. However, Smith was a disappointment as he only had 36 catches for 430 yards as he was clearly the 3rd option at wide receiver for the Eagles. The Eagles could choose to bring him back, but they could also free up $5 million in cap space by releasing him this offseason. Philadelphia can certainly find a better 3rd receiver and at a cheaper price than what was given to Smith.

 

Pittsburgh Steelers – Mike Mitchell – Safety

Mike Mitchell was the starting safety for a Steelers defense that really struggled last season even in the playoffs when they allowed 45 points to the Jaguars. Mitchell is certainly on the downside of his career at 30 years old and it is hard to justify the $8 million that he will be owed next season. Either way, the Steelers can upgrade at the safety position by getting rid of Mitchell and they can also clear up $5 million in cap space by releasing him.

 

San Francisco 49ers – Zane Beadles – Guard

Zane Beadles hasn’t been very effective in recent years and the 49ers could certainly use an upgrade over him at guard especially considering that he has a $4 million cap hit for next season. The 49ers not only need to replace him, but they also probably need to get rid of him. If the 49ers do decide to get rid of him then they could save $3.5 million in cap space.

 

Seattle Seahawks – Michael Bennett – Defensive End

Michael Bennett is still a very productive pass rusher as proven by his 8.5 sacks for the Seahawks last season. However, the Seahawks are in need of some cap space and Bennett’s contract is certainly an issue going forward. Bennett is due just over $7 million next season and the team could save $5.65 million in cap space if they let him go after June 1st. The Seahawks could choose to keep him considering his production is still good, but rumor has it that Seattle is trying to trade him away and they could just release him if they can’t find a team that will give up something for him.

 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Doug Martin – Running Back

Doug Martin signed a 5-year/$35.75 million contract extension prior to the 2016 season, but since then he hasn’t produced at all for the Buccaneers. In fact, Doug Martin was given a 4-game PED suspension late in the 2016 season and he has struggled to stay healthy during that time. Even when he has been healthy, Martin has only averaged 2.9 yards per carry each of the past 2 seasons. Martin has been very inconsistent throughout his career as he had 2 seasons where he rushed for over 1400 yards. However, the other 4 seasons he hasn’t even reached the 500-yard mark. The Buccaneers need more consistency out of the running back position and the team can clear up $6.75 million by releasing him this offseason which is why he is highly unlikely to be back next season.

 

Tennessee Titans – DeMarco Murray – Running Back

DeMarco Murray had a down season in 2017 to say the least as he only ran for 659 yards and he only averaged 3.6 yards per carry. Murray is still a good running back, but it seems that Derrick Henry has taken over as the number 1 running back in Tennessee. The Titans could still choose to keep Murray and have a dynamic duo along with Henry, but the issue is Murray is due $6.5 million next season. Tennessee will have to decide if Henry is ready to take on the full-time role and if he is ready for that role then the Titans could release Murray and save $6.5 million in cap space.

 

Washington Redskins – Rob Kelley – Running Back

Rob Kelley came out of nowhere to become the Redskins starting running back, but now he has clearly fallen down the depth chart as Chris Thompson and Semaji Perine are ahead of him. Kelley does have a really cheap contract as he is only due $468,000 in 2018, but he probably doesn’t want to be a 3rd-string back for the team. The Redskins could definitely choose to hold onto him since his contract is extremely cheap. However, Kelley doesn’t seem to have much of a role going forward and the Redskins could just release him and allow him a better opportunity elsewhere.

Biggest offseason need for every NFL team

Arizona Cardinals – Biggest need: Quarterback

The Cardinals are a team in transition heading into this offseason as they have a new head coach. However, the Cardinals also have a major void at the quarterback position after the retirement of Carson Palmer earlier this offseason. Arizona doesn’t have an answer at the quarterback position currently on their roster, so they will definitely need to address the position this offseason in the draft or in free agency. The Cardinals could go after a proven quarterback like Kirk Cousins in free agency or they could try and draft a younger option like Mason Rudolph or Lamar Jackson in the 1st round of the draft. Either way, Arizona needs to find a quarterback not only for the 2018 season, but for several years to come.

 

Atlanta Falcons – Biggest need: Defensive Tackle

Atlanta doesn’t have many needs on their roster, but one void that they have heading into the offseason is at the defensive tackle position. Grady Jerrett is a terrific starting defensive tackle for the Falcons and he will be returning as a starter for 2018. However, Dontari Poe is going to be a free agent and it is somewhat unlikely that he returns to the team. The Falcons don’t have anybody on their roster that can replace Poe at defensive tackle and it is a position that they must address specifically if he doesn’t return next season.

 

Baltimore Ravens – Biggest need: Wide Receiver

Baltimore’s offense struggled last season mostly because they lacked a true playmaker at the wide receiver position. Mike Wallace is scheduled to be a free agent this offseason and he is unlikely to be re-signed. Also, Jeremy Maclin is unlikely to return next season as the Ravens will just likely release him. That would only leave unproven player Breshad Perriman as their top receiver and he certainly hasn’t lived up to the hype of being a 1st round pick. Either way, Baltimore needs at least 2 more good receivers this offseason and they could even address it in free agency and the draft. The Ravens could draft either Calvin Ridley or Courtland Sutton in the 1st round and it is likely that they will draft a receiver with their 1st pick. However, there are some good receivers in free agency like Jarvis Landry and Sammy Watkins that could really help the team as well. Baltimore needs more from their passing game and adding any of those players listed above would be a terrific first step to finding a true number 1 receiver.

 

Buffalo Bills – Biggest Need: Quarterback

Tyrod Taylor isn’t a very good option at quarterback for the Bills and the coaching staff clearly doesn’t have much confidence in him. Taylor could return in 2018, but that appears unlikely considering his salary and the tension between him and the coaches. That means the Bills will likely need to address the quarterback position this offseason either in the draft in free agency. Buffalo could be a suitor for a veteran quarterback like Kirk Cousins free agency, but they also could select a quarterback in the 1st round like Mason Rudolph or Lamar Jackson. The Bills don’t currently have the franchise quarterback on their roster, but there are a few quality options available to upgrade at the position this offseason.

 

Carolina Panthers – Biggest need: Wide Receiver

Devin Funchess proved that he could be a good number 1 wide receiver for the Panthers, but they don’t have a good 2nd receiver that quarterback Cam Newton can throw to. The Panthers could sign a wide receiver in free agency, but they are more likely to address the position early on in the draft. Carolina doesn’t need to spend a 1st round pick on a receiver since it is a huge need, but they could still find a quality wide receiver in the 2nd or 3rd round.

 

Chicago Bears – Biggest need: Wide Receiver

Chicago has only one reliable receiver and that is Cameron Meredith and he is a decent number 2 wide receiver at best. The Bears also have former 1st round pick Kevin White, but he has been a major bust so far is he is often injured and he is unproductive when he is healthy. That means the Bears have a major need to find a couple of good wide receivers this offseason and it is very likely that they will do so in the 1st round of the draft. Chicago has a top 10 pick, so they should have their choice to draft either Calvin Ridley or Courtland Sutton. Either one of those guys would be good options as they would be able to develop and grow at the NFL level with talented young quarterback Mitchell Trubisky. The Bears could also add some depth to the position in free agency, but I would be absolutely shocked if they don’t draft a wide receiver early on in the draft.

 

Cincinnati Bengals – Biggest need: Left Tackle

Cincinnati’s offensive line was a disaster for the most part last season especially at the offensive tackle positions. However, the Bengals need to find a solution at the left tackle position especially since current starting left tackle Cedric Ogbuehi hasn’t been able to protect quarterback Andy Dalton consistently. It is unlikely that the Bengals address the left tackle position in free agency since there aren’t very good options at the position and the Bengals usually are quiet in free agency. However, the Bengals are in prime position to draft a good left tackle as Connor Williams, Mike McGlinchey, and Orlando Brown all could be available. Cincinnati needs to address this position very soon and they have a perfect opportunity to do so in the draft with some terrific left tackle prospects available.

 

Cleveland Browns – Biggest need: Quarterback

This is the biggest need for the Browns every single year and somehow they still haven’t solved their issue at the quarterback position. However, the Browns have 2 top 5 picks in the draft including the number 1 overall pick. That means Cleveland controls their own destiny to draft what they hope will become their franchise quarterback. The Browns will have their pick between Sam Darnold and Josh Rosen so it will be interesting to see which of those quarterbacks that they like better. DeShone Kizer has proven already that he isn’t the quarterback of the future for Cleveland so now is the time to draft a QB with the 1st pick and hopefully they can find a good player that can lead them out of a long-lasting rebuild.

 

Dallas Cowboys – Biggest need: Right Tackle

The Cowboys need help along the right side of their offensive line as starting right guard Jonathan Cooper is a free agent and he is unlikely to be re-signed. That means La’el Collins is likely to shift back to the right guard position instead of being the right tackle for Dallas which was a position that he struggled at last season. Dallas could address right tackle either in free agency or early on in the draft, but it is a position they need to figure out in order for their offense to be really successful in 2018.

 

Denver Broncos – Biggest need: Quarterback

Trevor Siemian is a good backup QB and he has exceeded expectations in his NFL career, but he is clearly not the answer for the Broncos at quarterback. Also, Paxton Lynch is often injured and he has been ineffective at quarterback for the Broncos as well. That means that Denver must address the quarterback position this offseason. The Broncos are a likely landing spot for veteran quarterback Kirk Cousins in free agency and that would be a terrific signing for the team. However, if the Broncos can’t find a starting QB in free agency then they should have an opportunity to draft either Josh Rosen, Baker Mayfield, or Josh Allen with the 5th overall pick. Either way, Denver is in good position to find their franchise quarterback, although it will be interesting to see if they address the position in free agency or the draft.

 

Detroit Lions – Biggest need: Running Back

Detroit has a few big needs that they must address, but a key position that they still haven’t addressed is at running back. Theo Riddick is a good 3rd-down back and pass-catcher, but he isn’t the type of running back that can carry the load for the Lions in the running game. Ameer Abdullah hasn’t proven that he is a solution as the early-down back as he has been ineffective throughout his NFL career. Detroit likely won’t address the position in the 1st round of the draft, but they could find a good early-down back in the 2nd or 3rd round of the draft. Either way, Detroit needs to fix their issues at the running back position and provide more balance to their offense.

 

Green Bay Packers – Biggest need: Tight End

The Packers thought that they found a good starting tight end when they signed Martellus Bennett in free agency last offseasonm, but that didn’t end up to be the case as he was unproductive and ultimately released by Green Bay during the 2017 season. Richard Rodgers is a decent backup tight end, but the Packers need to find a better number 1 option at the position for 2018 and beyond. The good news is that there a couple of good options for the Packers to draft. Mark Andrews and Dallas Goedert are the two best tight end prospects in the draft and it would be wise for the Packers to draft either one of them as they would give Aaron Rodgers another threat in the passing game.

 

Houston Texans – Biggest need: Left Tackle

The offensive line was a complete mess for the Texans last season as they dealt with injuries and inconsistent play at basically every position. However, the one position that they really need to address is at left tackle after they traded away Duane Brown last season. Chris Clark was the starting left tackle for most of last season, but he struggled tremendously and he is unlikely to return anyway as he is a free agent this offseason. The Texans don’t have a pick until the 3rd round of the draft so it is unlikely that they will be able to find a good starting left tackle in the draft. However, they could try and sign a veteran left tackle in a limited market as players like Nate Solder and Greg Robinson should be available in free agency. Either way, Houston needs a lot of help on their offensive line and they don’t have many draft picks to be able to do so this offseason.

 

Indianapolis Colts – Biggest need: Defensive End

The Colts pass rush once again struggled last season as they were one of the worst teams in the NFL at sacking the quarterback. In fact, Jabaal Sheard was the team’s best pass rusher even though he only had 5.5 sacks. The Colts need to find a pass rusher that can get after the quarterback consistently and it is likely that they will address the defensive end position early in the draft. The good news is that the Colts have the 3rd overall pick in the draft which means they are in prime position to add an elite pass rusher if they choose to go that route. Bradley Chubb is the best defensive end prospect in this draft and he is probably even the best player overall in the draft and he should be available when the Colts have their 1st pick. Chubb would be a huge addition to the Colts as he would boost their pass rush right away. The entire Colts defense needs a boost and if the Colts add a pass rusher like Chubb then it would be a big step in the right direction.

 

Jacksonville Jaguars – Biggest need: Wide Receiver

It is amazing that Jacksonville made it to the AFC championship game despite the lack of playmakers that they had at the wide receiver position. Allen Robinson is clearly the team’s top receiver, but he was injured for basically all of the season and he might not be re-signed in free agency. Also, Marqise Lee and Allen Hurns are somewhat unlikely to return next season as Lee is a free agent and Hurns is likely to be released. The Jaguars need a number 1 receiver especially if all of those receivers listed above leave this offseason. Jacksonville could add a receiver in free agency, but there should be some good options when the Jaguars pick in the 1st round. James Washington and Christian Kirk both could be available when the Jaguars are on the clock and either of those players would add some explosiveness to Jacksonville’s offense. Jacksonville needs some weapons for quarterback Blake Bortles to throw to and adding a couple of receivers this offseason is much needed.

 

Kansas City Chiefs – Biggest need: Wide Receiver

Kansas City hasn’t received much production from the wide receiver position over the past few years mostly because former QB Alex Smith used his tight ends and running backs often in the passing game. However, the Chiefs now have unproven young quarterback Patrick Mahomes as the clear starter in 2018 and they must surround him with more weapons in the passing game. Tyreek Hill is an explosive wide receiver, but besides him the Chiefs have absolutely nothing else at the wide receiver position. Kansas City probably won’t spend big in free agency to acquire a receiver, yet they still could find a good possession receiver for a bargain or in the 2nd or 3rd round of the draft. Either way, Kansas City needs some help at the wide receiver position especially since they have an inexperienced quarterback starting in 2018.

 

Los Angeles Chargers – Biggest need: Kicker

The kicker position is often overlooked as many people for some reason don’t think it matters to have a good kicker. However, the Chargers found out last season that it is very important to have a reliable kicker as it was a position that they struggled at last season. The Chargers had a remarkable 4 kickers attempt field goals for the team last season and they combined for a terrible 66.7% conversion rate. They still haven’t found a reliable kicker and it is a weakness that they must address heading into the 2018 season. The good news is that there are plenty of good kickers available this offseason including Graham Gano, Matt Bryant, and Ryan Succop. All of those kickers are extremely reliable and they would be major upgrades for the Chargers. Either way, the Chargers need to find a new starting kicker that will at least be average because the position cost the team in a major way last season.

 

Los Angeles Rams – Biggest need: Cornerback

The Los Angeles Rams had a good secondary last season, but they have two starting cornerbacks heading to free agency this offseson. Trumaine Johnson and Nickell Robey-Coleman both might not return next season which would create a major void at a position that the team already didn’t have much depth at. If either one of those guys leave in free agency as expected then the cornerback position would be a big need for the Rams. The good news is that the Rams should have a couple of options available in the 1st round of the draft to fill a possible void at cornerback. The two main options that they should consider are Denzel Ward and Josh Jackson. Both would be good starters right away for the Rams if they don’t retain both Johnson and Robey-Coleman this offseason. Cornerback isn’t a huge need right now for the Rams, but it certainly could be especially if they don’t retain number 1 starter Trumaine Johnson.

 

Miami Dolphins – Biggest need: Right Tackle

The Dolphins have a decent starting right tackle with Ja’Wuan James right now, but he is due $9.3 million next season and that is a hefty price for the Dolphins to pay. Miami could decide to retain James, but in all likelihood he will be a salary casualty this offseason. That would create a major void at the right tackle position for the Dolphins this offseason and it wouldn’t be a position that they would consider going after in free agency since the right tackle position is very weak. However, there are some good options like Orlando Brown, Connor Williams, and Mike McGlinchey that could be available when the Dolphins pick in the 1st round. Either way, the Dolphins have a need on the right side of their offensive line and right tackle is a particular area of concern.

 

Minnesota Vikings – Biggest need: Quarterback

The Vikings have an interesting dilemma at the quarterback this offseason as they have 3 starting caliber quarterbacks, but they are all free agents this offseason. They could decide to retain either Case Keenum or Teddy Bridgewater to be their starting quarterback. However, they could also explore other options on the free agent market including Kirk Cousins who is the top quarterback available this offseason. The Vikings have plenty of cap space available, but they have to figure out which free agent quarterback they want to have as their starter for 2018 and beyond. Minnesota has some good options available at quarterback, but they have to figure out which QB they want the most.

 

New England Patriots – Biggest need: Cornerback

The Patriots have Stephon Gilmore as their number 1 cornerback for several years to come, but the Patriots don’t have much on the depth chart behind him. Malcolm Butler is expected to depart in free agency and that would leave Eric Rowe as the team’s new 2nd cornerback. Rowe is an unproven player and he isn’t exactly a very reliable starter for New England so cornerback is a position that New England must add some depth to this offseason.

 

New Orleans Saints – Biggest need: Quarterback

Drew Brees is a free agent this offseason, although he will certainly be back with the Saints next season unless he decides to surprise us all and retire. Either way, Brees is currently 39 years old and it is very possible that he could retire from the NFL very soon. However, the Saints don’t currently have a young quarterback that can develop under Brees and take over at the quarterback position when he is ready to retire. The good news for New Orleans is that the quarterback position in this year’s draft class is very deep which means they could draft a quarterback late in the 1st round. Mason Rudolph and Lamar Jackson seem like the most ideal fits for the Saints, but the team could also decide to trade up for a QB like Josh Allen or Baker Mayfield. New Orleans needs to draft a young quarterback that they can develop under Brees for a year or two and then become the new franchise quarterback.

 

New York Giants – Biggest need: Quarterback

Eli Manning is still under contract for next season, but he hasn’t been very productive recently and he has a massive cap hit for next season. The Giants could decide to keep Manning for another year, but in all likelihood they will just release him. Either way, the Giants need to find their quarterback of the future and it is likely that they will do so early on in the draft. New York has the 2nd overall pick which means that they will have the option to select either Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen, or Baker Mayfield. New York has plenty of talent on their roster, but finding a young quarterback that can carry them in the future is crucial.

 

New York Jets – Biggest need: Quarterback

Josh McCown exceeded expectations at quarterback for the Jets last season, but he is a free agent and he was only meant to be a temporary solution at the position anyway. Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberg have already proven that they aren’t meant to be starting quarterbacks in the NFL which means the Jets need a starting QB for the 2018 season. New York will likely go after the top available quarterback Kirk Cousins in free agency, but if they don’t land him then the team still has a high enough draft pick to be able to get a young quarterback like Josh Allen or Baker Mayfield. The Jets still have to build their roster, but finding the quarterback of the future is paramount to the team’s future success.

 

Oakland Raiders – Biggest need: Cornerback

The Raiders struggled at the cornerback position last season mostly due to injuries, but even when healthy there wasn’t much production from the starters. TJ Carrie was the team’s best corner, but he is scheduled to be a free agent this offseason. Sean Smith and David Amerson weren’t very productive and the Raiders could cut ties with both of them. Gareon Conley is the only cornerback that is guaranteed to come back next season, but he only played in 2 games last season due to injuries. The Raiders need to find a new starter or two at the cornerback position this offseason and it is likely they will draft a cornerback like Denzel Ward with their 1st round pick. Oakland needs a difference maker at cornerback and by doing so they could really improve their defense in 2018.

 

Philadelphia Eagles – Biggest need: Linebacker

Philadelphia doesn’t have many needs on their roster as proven by their recent super bowl victory. However, the linebacker position is the one area of real concern heading into the offseason. Nigel Bradham played well for the Eagles as a starter, but he is a free agent and it is unknown if he will return to the team next season. Also, starter Jordan Hicks is often injured and the Eagles could use some depth behind him. The key is whether Bradham returns to Philadelphia in free agency, but if he doesn’t then linebacker is definitely a position of need. Philadelphia will likely address linebacker in the draft as Tremaine Edmunds, Malik Jefferson, or Rashaan Evans all could be available when the Eagles pick 32nd overall. Either way, the Eagles need more depth at linebacker and that must be addressed this offseason.

 

Pittsburgh Steelers – Biggest need: Inside Linebacker

The scary injury of Ryan Shazier has created tons of uncertainty for Pittsburgh at the inside linebacker position heading into the 2018 season. The injury is serious enough that Shazier might not even be able to play football ever again. Either way, it appears that Shazier won’t be ready for the 2018 season and it is time for the Steelers to think about finding a replacement for him. Pittsburgh could find a short-term answer in free agency, but in all likelihood they will draft a player like Malik Jefferson or Reshaan Evans in the 1st round of the draft. Pittsburgh needs an inside linebacker that can cover more effectively and either one of those young linebacker prospects would be an ideal fit. Hopefully Shazier can come back and be a starter for the Steelers at linebacker at some point, but inside linebacker is definitely a position of need this offseason.

 

San Francisco 49ers – Biggest need: Running Back

Carlos Hyde is scheduled to be a free agent this offseason and it is unlikely that he is re-signed by the 49ers. San Francisco doesn’t have another running back on their roster that is really capable of filling his role as the starter for 2018 and beyond so it is a position that they must address. There aren’t any real good options at running back in free agency, so in all likelihood the 49ers will address it early in the draft. The 49ers will hope that Saquon Barkley somehow falls to the team at the number 8 overall pick, but that is very unlikely to happen. San Francisco will probably have to find a running back in the 2nd or 3rd round that can provide some stability at running back. Either way, the 49ers must re-sign Hyde or find a capable replacement at some point in the draft.

 

Seattle Seahawks – Biggest need: Running Back

The Seahawks are a team that rely heavily on the running game, but the issue is that they don’t have a running back that they can rely upon. Eddie Lacy proved that he wasn’t the solution last season and he won’t return to the team in 2018. Chris Carson, C.J. Prosise, and Mike Davis are all decent backups. However, none of those guys will likely be effective for the Seahawks in the running game next season. Seattle needs a clear number 1 running back that they can rely upon to help take the pressure off of Russell Wilson. Seattle could address the position in the 1st round with Derrius Guice as he is a running back that could be the clear starter right away for Seattle. However, the running back class is deep enough that they could wait until the 2nd round or 3rd round to find their new starter. Either way, Seattle doesn’t have a running back that they can rely upon right now and they need to find someone that can be a playmaker and help improve Seattle’s offense.

 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Biggest need: Cornerback

There are a few major areas of need for the Buccaneers heading into the 2018 season including running back and defensive end. However, cornerback seems to be the biggest area of weakness for the Buccaneers heading into 2018. Starting cornerback Vernon Hargreaves is still young, but he struggled tremendously last season with injuries and inconsistent play when he was healthy. Brent Grimes played well for the Buccaneers and he was clearly their top corner, but he is 34 years old and he is a free agent this offseason. The Buccaneers also don’t have much depth at the position as Ryan Smith is their only backup right now and he hasn’t shown much during his opportunities to start last season. Tampa Bay needs two or three more cornerbacks this offseason as they don’t have any reliable starters at the position right now and they certainly don’t have much depth. The Buccaneers could decide to address the position early on in the draft like in the 2nd or 3rd rounds. However, it is most likely that the Buccaneers go out and find some cornerback help in free agency. The good news is that there are plenty of good cornerbacks available in free agency including Trumaine Johnson, Malcolm Butler, Kyle Fuller, and E.J. Gaines. Any of those players would provide a major upgrade over what the Buccaneers had at the cornerback position last season and it is likely that they sign at least one those top free agent cornerbacks. Tampa Bay still could address cornerback in the draft, but it is an area that they must improve in order to make their defense decent again in 2018.

 

Tennessee Titans – Biggest need: Guard

The Titans have a decent offensive line thanks to the stellar play of Jack Conklin and Taylor Lewan at the offensive tackle positions. However, the interior offensive line has been where Tennessee has struggled and it showed by their inability to run the ball consistently this past season. Guard Josh Kline is scheduled to be a free agent this offseason and he likely won’t return. Also, the other starting guard Quinton Spain will probably be back in 2018, but the Titans will look for an upgrade over him this offseason. There are some interesting guards that the Titans could go after in free agency like Joe Berger, Andrew Norwell, and D.J. Fluker. However, the Titans could also draft a guard in the 1st round like Will Hernandez out of UTEP. Tennessee needs help at both guard positions and if they upgrade at guard then the Titans running game could be much improved next season.

 

Washington Redskins – Biggest need: Wide Receiver

Terrelle Pryor was a major disappointment for the Redskins last season as he only had 240 receiving yards and now he will likely depart in free agency. That will leave unproven receiver Josh Doctson as the team’s number 1 wideout. The Redskins also have Jamison Crowder, but he is only a good number 3 receiver for the team. Washington needs to stabilize the wide receiver position by finding a receiver that can come in and be at least a good number 2 receiver. The Redskins should specifically try to find a proven receiver in free agency that is reliable since Doctson is a complete unknown at this point in his career. New quarterback Alex Smith will have some good weapons to work with on offense, but he needs some better playmakers in the passing game in order to be successful.

Free Agent that every NFL team must re-sign

Arizona Cardinals – Drew Stanton – Quarterback – 2017 Stats: 894 yards, 6 TD’s/5 INT’s

The Arizona Cardinals now must find a solution at the quarterback position for the 2018 season after Carson Palmer decided to retire from the NFL. Arizona was a respectable team last season mainly because Drew Stanton came in and played well enough to help them win. Stanton clearly isn’t the answer at quarterback for the Cardinals, but he is a quality backup that the Cardinals must retain this offseason. Arizona will likely draft a quarterback or find one in free agency, yet they still must re-sign Stanton in order to have some stability at the position next season.

 

Atlanta Falcons – Adrian Clayborn – Defensive End – 2017 Stats: 21 tackles and 9.5 sacks

Adrian Clayborn has revived his career as a defensive end for the Falcons this season as he had the most sacks that he’s ever had in a season with 9.5. Clayborn still needs to prove consistency as 6 of his 9.5 sacks this season came in one game against the Cowboys. Clayborn probably shouldn’t be a starting defensive end, but the Falcons should keep him around specifically in pass rush situations.

 

Baltimore Ravens – Ryan Jensen – Center – 2017 Stats: 16 games started

Ryan Jensen was a backup center not too long ago, but he proved this season that he is an above average starting center in the NFL. Jensen is a good pass blocker and he is an even better run blocker for the Ravens. It is difficult to find quality centers in the NFL these days and Jensen has proven that he can be a quality starter as he started all 16 games for Baltimore this past season. Jensen will undoubtedly receive competitive offers from other teams if he tests free agency, but it would be a mistake for the Ravens to let him go.

 

Buffalo Bills – Kyle Williams – Defensive Tackle – 2017 Stats: 41 tackles and 3 sacks

Kyle Williams is 34 years old and he isn’t the dominant defensive tackle that he once was, but he is still the veteran of the Bills defense and he is a productive starter. The Bills could choose to go younger at the position this offseason. However, Williams means a lot to the Bills franchise as he has been there his entire career and it would be a shame to see the Bills let him play anywhere else.

 

Carolina Panthers – Julius Peppers – Defensive End – 2017 Stats: 33 tackles and 11 sacks

Julius Peppers last year proved that age is just a number as he returned the Panthers and had an impressive 11 sacks. Peppers is about to be 38 years old which means he could choose to retire since he has already accomplished plenty in his career. However, the Panthers need to make sure that he doesn’t sign elsewhere and hopefully they can convince him to come back on a 1-year deal since their pass rush wouldn’t be the same without him.

 

Chicago Bears – Kyle Fuller – Cornerback – 2017 Stats: 69 tackles and 2 INT’s

Kyle Fuller had a career season in 2017 for the Bears defense as he had a career-high 69 tackles to go along with 22 pass breakups which was the 2nd most in the NFL. Fuller is going to generate plenty of interest in free agency so it is possible he joins a team that is more of a contender. However, the Bears need to make an effort to bring Fuller back because without him the Bears secondary could be a big mess next season.

 

Cincinnati Bengals – Tyler Eifert – Tight End – 2017 Stats: 4 catches and 46 yards

Back surgery ended Tyler Eifert’s 2017 season after only 2 games played and it likely was a major reason why the Bengals passing offense was only ranked 27th in yards per game. The only target that the Bengals had was A.J. Green so the Bengals were lacking another real weapon that they could throw to. Tyler Eifert has certainly proven that he can be one of the best tight ends in the NFL if he is healthy. However, Eifert has struggled with injuries throughout his career and that has really held him back. Eifert is a major redzone threat and he creates matchup problems for opposing defenses, so the Bengals definitely need him back.

 

Cleveland Browns – Isaiah Crowell – Running Back – 2017 Stats: 853 yards and 2 TD’s

Isaiah Crowell wasn’t able to crack the 1,000 yard mark once again, but he was clearly the most productive player that the Browns had on offense. Crowell was the early-down back for Cleveland while Duke Johnson would come in mainly on passing downs and provide some more speed. Cleveland could try and find an upgrade at running back over Crowell, but the team has other needs to address and they would be smart to bring him back since he carried a very weak Browns offense last season.

 

Dallas Cowboys – DeMarcus Lawrence – Defensive End – 2017 Stats: 58 tackles and 14.5 sacks

DeMarcus Lawrence finally had his breakout season in the NFL as he had a career-high 58 tackles and 14.5 sacks for the Cowboys last season. Lawrence proved that he can be an elite pass rusher which is what Dallas desperately had been searching for since DeMarcus Ware left town. It won’t be cheap for Dallas to re-sign Lawrence, yet he is one of the few impact players on the Cowboys defense and they absolutely must re-sign him.

 

Denver Broncos – Todd Davis – Inside Linebacker – 2017 Stats: 82 tackles and 1 sack

Todd Davis has quite the story about his rise to become a starting linebacker as it was just a few years ago that he was an undrafted free agent out of Sacramento State. However, Davis has become an important player on a dominant Broncos defense as he was 2nd on the team with 82 tackles last season. Davis plays with high energy and he is constantly making plays so it is important that Denver brings him back.

 

Detroit Lions – Ezekiel Ansah – Defensive End – 2017 Stats: 44 tackles and 12 sacks

Ezekiel Ansah has become one of the best pass rushers in the NFL and now he is in line for a big payday this offseason. The Lions could franchise tag Ansah and make sure that he stays for at least one more year, but that would cost a lot of money in order to do so. Either way, Detroit has many free agents to try and retain this offseason, yet Ansah is a player that they must keep if they want their defense to be good again.

 

Green Bay Players – Jahri Evans – Guard – 2017 Stats: 14 games started

Jahri Evans did a good job as the starting right guard for the Green Bay Packers last season and the team would have a void to fill at the position if they let him go. Green Bay probably needs to find a long-term solution at right guard this offseason. However, bringing back the 34-year old Evans on a 1 or 2 year deal would help the Packers in the short-term.

 

Houston Texans – Shane Lechler – Punter – 2017 Stats: 92 punts and 49.0 AVG

Shane Lechler has been one of the best punters in the NFL for a very long time and he continues to be very productive as he was 2nd in the NFL last season with an average punt of 49 yards. Lechler is 41 years old which means he clearly won’t be getting a long-term deal, yet the Texans should bring him back on a 1-year deal unless he decides to retire.

 

Indianapolis Colts – Adam Vinatieri – Kicker – 2017 Stats: 29/34 field goals

Adam Vinatieri is arguably the best kicker in NFL history and even though he is 45 years old he is still just as good as he’s ever been. Vinatieri could decide to retire this offseason because he is the oldest player in the NFL right now, but that is unlikely since he is chasing hall-of-fame kicker Morten Andersen for the most points in NFL history. Vinatieri prefers to return to the Colts in 2018 and Indianapolis would be foolish to try and find a younger kicker for next season as Vinatieri has been the model of kicking accuracy for many years.

 

Jacksonville Jaguars – Allen Robinson – Wide Receiver – 2017 Stats: 1 rec. and 17 yards

Allen Robinson’s 2017 season didn’t last long as he tore his ACL during the first game and what is even more unfortunate is that he was in his contract year. Robinson was in line for a huge payday with the Jaguars or another team, although his injury will likely hurt his chances of getting a huge contract this offseason. Robinson is the clear number 1 receiver for the Jaguars offense which is now lacking any good receivers without him. The Jaguars will likely address the wide receiver position anyway this offseason, but it is difficult to find elite wide receivers like Robinson. Robinson might only want to sign a 1-year contract in order to prove himself, yet the Jaguars just need to find a way to retain him.

 

Kansas City Chiefs – Albert Wilson – Wide Receiver – 2017 Stats: 554 yards and 3 TD’s

Albert Wilson doesn’t get mentioned much in the Chiefs offense because of the trio of weapons that Kansas City has at the skill positions. However, Wilson was a good number 2 wide receiver behind dynamic receiver Tyreek Hill. Wilson is a good receiver on 3rd downs because he has good hands and he is very reliable. The Chiefs will have to fight off some teams in order to retain Wilson, but it would be worthwhile to retain him since he is a very reliable receiver when called upon.

 

Los Angeles Chargers – Antonio Gates – Tight End – 2017 Stats: 316 yards and 3 TD’s

Age has clearly not been kind to Antonio Gates as he had the worst season of his career in 2017 as he only had 316 yards and 3 touchdowns. Gates isn’t nearly the elite player that he once was as he will turn 38 years old prior to next season. Hunter Henry has now clearly surpassed Gates as the Chargers starting tight end. However, Gates can still provide something as a backup and he brings quality veteran leadership as well. Also, Gates is a favorite target of quarterback Philip Rivers and Chargers games just wouldn’t be the same without Gates catching passes from Rivers. Gates could just choose to retire this offseason since he clearly doesn’t have too much left in the tank. Either way, the Chargers need to make sure that he retires with the team because it would awful if he signs elsewhere in free agency.

 

Los Angeles Rams – Trumaine Johnson – Cornerback – 2017 Stats: 65 tackles and 2 INT’s

The Los Angeles Rams don’t have a very good secondary as it is, but if Trumaine Johnson leaves in free agency then it would probably be a disaster. Johnson will be one of the top free agents available in the NFL, but it is highly unlikely that the Rams will let him go. Johnson signed a franchise tag last offseason in order to remain with the team and Los Angeles will likely give him the tag again unless the two sides can agree on a long-term deal. Johnson is clearly the number 1 cornerback for the Rams and the Rams defense would be much weaker without him.

 

Miami Dolphins – Jarvis Landry – Wide Receiver – 2017 Stats: 987 yards and 9 TD’s

Jarvis Landry was the only real threat that the Miami Dolphins had on offense this past season and he quietly was one of the top receivers in the NFL. In fact, Landry led the NFL with 112 receptions last season and he was clearly the number 1 target for the Dolphins. The rest of the offense for the Dolphins wasn’t very good, but Landry was the one player that the team could consistently rely upon. It will take a lot for Miami to re-sign Landry this offseason since he will be one of the top NFL free agents available. However, the Dolphins need to do whatever it takes to bring him back since the offense is not good without him.

 

Minnesota Vikings – Teddy Bridgewater – Quarterback – 2017 Stats: 1 INT

The Minnesota Vikings have a very strange 2018 offseason ahead of them at the quarterback position. Minnesota is in a unique position since they have 3 quarterbacks who could all legitimately make the case that they should be the team’s starting QB in 2018. Also, all 3 of the Vikings quarterbacks will be free agents this offseason including former 1st round pick Teddy Bridgewater. He finally became healthy enough to play halfway through this past season as he missed significant time with a gruesome knee injury. However, Case Keenum played so well at quarterback in 2017 that he retained the job even with Bridgewater healthy enough to play. It will be interesting to see whether the Vikings bring back Keenum or Bridgewater back next season as the starter. However, Minnesota should definitely bring back Bridgewater in free agency. The main reason is because Bridgewater is only 25 years old and he has much more potential than Keenum. However, Bridgewater has yet to be an above average QB during his 2 seasons as a starter with the Vikings. Minnesota has a really tough decision to make at the quarterback position this offseason and it will be interesting to see which QB they decide will be their starter for the future.

 

New England Patriots – Nate Solder – Left Tackle – 2017 Stats: 16 games started

The New England Patriots have a few big name free agents that they will probably need to re-sign this offseason. However, the most important for the Patriots to re-sign is definitely starting left tackle Nate Solder. He is the anchor of New England’s offensive line and he also has the high pressure task of protecting Tom Brady who is arguably the best QB in NFL history. Solder is still young and he is a tremendous leader as well, so the Patriots would obviously like to sign him to a long-term deal. It is extremely difficult finding quality left tackles in the NFL these days and Solder is definitely one of the best around. The Patriots need to do whatever it takes to re-sign Solder since it would be absolutely devastating if the team would let him leave in free agency.

 

New Orleans Saints – Drew Brees – Quarterback – 2017 Stats: 4,334 yards and 23 TD’s/8 INT’s

Drew Brees just continues to define age despite being almost 39 years old and he keeps proving why he is one of the best quarterbacks of all-time. Brees is obviously the biggest name on the free agent market, but it would be shocking if the Saints even allow him to test free agency. The Saints need to find his replacement at quarterback very soon, but this team would be absolutely lost without Brees as their quarterback. New Orleans will find a way to bring him back even if they have to franchise tag him, but it is extremely important that they reach a deal.

 

New York Giants – Justin Pugh – Left Guard – 2017 Stats: 8 games started

The New York Giants have some very tough decisions to make this offseason, but the free agent that they must re-sign is starting left guard Justin Pugh. New York already has enough offensive line trouble at offensive tackle, so if they lose Pugh then it could create an even bigger mess in 2018. Pugh is an elite left guard and he will probably want to be paid like in free agency. The Giants are heading for a lengthy rebuild and Pugh might rather want to join a contender in free agency, but the Giants need to make a big effort in order to bring him back.

 

New York Jets – Demario Davis – Inside Linebacker – 2017 Stats: 135 tackles and 5 sacks

The New York Jets had many players that overachieved this past season and that is the reason that the team was better than expected. Perhaps no player surprised more than starting inside linebacker Demario Davis who led the Jets with 135 tackles and 5 sacks. Davis is still young and the Jets would be wise to offer him a long-term deal since he had a career season in 2017. Davis is in line for a big payday and we’ll see if the two sides can reach an agreement, but it would be helpful to have him back since he was the best player on their defense last season.

 

Oakland Raiders – NaVorro Bowman – Inside Linebacker – 2017 Stats: 127 tackles and 1 INT

The inside linebacker position was disastrous for the Raiders with rookie Marquel Lee as the starter for the first 6 games of the season. However, the Raiders came across a very unique opportunity as they were able to sign 4-time first-team all-pro NaVorro Bowman mid-season. Bowman was a major upgrade at the inside linebacker position and hopefully the Raiders don’t create another void at the position by letting him go. Bowman is about to turn 30 years old, so he still has several years left in his career and it would be smart for the Raiders to make him a long-term commitment.

 

Philadelphia Eagles – Nigel Bradham – Outside Linebacker – 2017 Stats: 88 tackles and 1 sack

The Philadelphia Eagles have some free agents that they’ll need to make some decisions on, but the most important player to retain is Nigel Bradham. He is a disruptive force as he is consistently making plays all over the field. Philadelphia has a really good defense and Bradham has been a key part of their resurgence defensively in 2017. He is still young and he should be somewhat cheap to re-sign, but the Eagles need to find a way to bring him back.

 

Pittsburgh Steelers – Le’Veon Bell – Running Back – 2017 Stats: 1,291 yards and 9 TD’s

Pittsburgh’s offense was very good this past season and the main reason for that was the dynamic rushing attack led by star running back Le’Veon Bell. He was 3rd in the NFL with 1,291 rushing yards and he was also 3rd in rushing touchdowns with 9. Bell has proven that he can consistently be a top 5 running back in the NFL and now there is a very good chance that he will get paid like one. The Steelers would like to reach a long-term deal with Bell, but they might have to franchise tag him once again if they can’t agree to terms on a new contract. Either way, it isn’t likely that Bell will even be able to test free agency since Bell just means way too much to the team.

 

San Francisco 49ers – Jimmy Garoppolo – Quarterback – 2017 Stats: 1,560 yards and 7 TD’s/5 INT’s

Jimmy Garoppolo was acquired from the Patriots for a 2nd round pick at the trade deadline and he played very well in his 5 starts as he led the 49ers to a 5-0 record. Garoppolo completely revived a 49ers team that was only 1-10 until he came along and lifted the 49ers to 5 straight wins despite having an underwhelming supporting cast around him. We’ll see if he can continue that type of success next season, but there is no question that he made a huge difference in the 49ers 2017 season. The 49ers have already said that they won’t be letting him go in free agency, so don’t expect him to be playing elsewhere next season. Garoppolo can hopefully reach a long-term deal with the team, although the 49ers will definitely franchise tag him if they can’t agree to terms since he is just too important for them to let go.

 

Seattle Seahawks – Jimmy Graham – Tight End – 2017 Stats: 520 yards and 10 TD’s

The Seattle Seahawks have many key decisions to make on their own free agents this offseason, but there is clearly none bigger than tight end Jimmy Graham. He has consistently been one of the elite tight ends in the NFL since 2011 when he was with New Orleans. Graham is the biggest weapon that the Seahawks have on offense since he creates mismatches against linebackers and safeties. It is very difficult to find tight ends that are as talented as Graham is, so this would be a huge loss if the Seahawks can’t find a way to re-sign him.

 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Brent Grimes – Cornerback – 2017 Stats: 49 tackles and 3 INT’s

Tampa Bay’s secondary was an absolute mess last season mostly because they didn’t have much depth at the cornerback position, but they also endured many injuries at that position. However, the one consistent player at cornerback was veteran Brent Grimes who will turn 35 prior to next season. Grimes could choose to retire this offseason, but if he doesn’t then the Buccaneers would be very wise to bring him back. He is still playing at a very high level despite his age and he is the only consistent cornerback that Tampa Bay has. The Buccaneers need a lot of help at cornerback even if Grimes returns next season, although the secondary would once again be a big disaster if he doesn’t come back.

 

Tennessee Titans – Ryan Succop – Kicker – 2017 Stats: 35/42 field goals

Ryan Succop was certainly a very busy kicker this season as he attempted 42 field goals for the Titans. However, Succop fared well with those kicks as he made 35 of them which means overall he did a good job. It is kind of difficult to find accurate kickers these days, so Tennessee should realize the importance of having a good kicker like Succop. The Titans have a reliable kicker right now and they shouldn’t try and take the risk of trying to find a new one as that decision could backfire.

 

Washington Redskins – Kirk Cousins – Quarterback – 2017 Stats: 4,093 yards and 27 TD’s/13 INT’s

There is no doubt that Kirk Cousins is the most important free agent for the Redskins since the team will likely fall apart if they can’t find a way to re-sign him. Cousins doesn’t seem likely to sign a long-term deal with Washington this offseason and it is a very real possibility that he could leave in free agency. That would be a nightmare scenario for the Redskins as they probably wouldn’t be able to find a good option in free agency. Also, the Redskins don’t have a high draft pick, so they might not be able to find a good quarterback. The Redskins could franchise tag him once again, but the question is whether the team wants to keep doing that. Either way, the Redskins need to find a way to re-sign Cousins this offseason or else they’re heading for a major rebuild.