Team Needs: NFCThursday, February 09, 2012
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The 2012 NFL offseason officially began on Monday. Smaller cuts have begun to trickle in (Bryant McFadden, Zac Diles), and big ones (Peyton Manning) will soon follow.
I can say confidently that I believe our 2011 offseason NFL coverage was better than any other website's out there. Our position-by-position market breakdowns were incredibly thorough and informative. Our NFL draft coverage improves annually, and there is no place on the internet as comprehensive with as much attention to detail as the Rotoworld News Page both leading up to and during free agency and the draft. We don't take breaks.
Rotoworld's collective goal is to make the product better every year.
I posted a full free agency list earlier this offseason, and it can be found here. Chris Wesseling and I have each taken a conference to diagnose team needs. Next week, we will rekindle the positional market breakdowns and dive head-first into free agency analysis. We hope you'll stay with us.
Bang it here for Wesseling's look at the AFC.
2011 record: 8-8
Biggest need: Revamped secondary
Longtime top cornerback Terence Newman will be an offseason salary cap casualty, and free safety Abram Elam has also been a liability in coverage. The Cowboys fielded a bottom-ten pass defense in 2011 despite racking up the seventh most sacks in football. The secondary personnel is obviously a problem. Offensively, Dallas will be in the market for upgrades at guard and center.
New York Giants
2011 record: 9-7
Biggest need: Back-seven reinforcements on defense
Cornerbacks Aaron Ross and Terrell Thomas are free agents, and so is nickel back Deon Grant. The Giants are set at both outside linebacker spots, but need a long-term answer inside after playing musical chairs at the position since Antonio Pierce's retirement. On offense, New York could explore upgrading at left tackle and at running back. Brandon Jacobs has tip-toed around the backfield too often in recent years, and is due an unwieldy $4.9 million in salary and bonuses.
2011 record: 8-8
Biggest need: Unified team concept
Fast-breaking after the lockout, the Eagles chose the worst possible time to be the league's most active team in terms of scheme and personnel change. They started predictably slow, and were in far too deep a hole by midseason to overcome quarterback Michael Vick's injuries. On defense, Philadelphia attempted to combine up-field pass rushers on the defensive line with linebackers who couldn't tackle. They got smoked by the run. Retaining defensive coordinator Juan Castillo, the Eagles will hope that continuity breeds success. They certainly could use better linebackers.
2011 record: 5-11
Biggest need: Franchise quarterback
The Skins quietly put together one of the NFL's premier 2011 draft classes. At least four picks look like 2012 starters, and six more have a legitimate chance to be key long-term contributors. But Mike Shanahan's club will continue to tread water until it acquires a franchise quarterback. The Redskins must also address issues in the secondary, where strong safety LaRon Landry is a free agent, and at receiver, where Santana Moss and Jabar Gaffney are both past their primes.
2011 record: 8-8
Biggest need: Big-play receiver
The Bears' 2011 season tanked due to unlucky, late-season injuries. Their offseason approach shouldn't be affected by bad luck. The passing game needs to be a focus, however, by way of capitalizing on Jay Cutler's strong, accurate arm and creating more "chunk" plays off play action. Offensive coordinator Mike Tice has openly prioritized acquiring a No. 1 receiver, and the Bears may need two new starters with Johnny Knox returning from surgery to stabilize his vertebra.
2011 record: 10-6
Biggest need: Franchise left tackle
The Lions have seen the best of Jeff Backus, and it's time to address the future of the left tackle position as Detroit's long-time starter rehabs a torn biceps muscle while entering what would be his age-35 season. (Backus is also a free agent.) Quarterback Matthew Stafford was lucky to make it through 16 games in 2011; he suffered a midseason high ankle sprain and late-year broken finger. The Lions will also attend to their secondary, which has been an ongoing weakness.