Evan Silva

Offseason Low Down

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Team Needs & Roster Rankings

Monday, February 03, 2014



21. New York Giants

OL: The Giants' line fell straight off a cliff in 2013, and none of GM Jerry Reese's recent draft stabs filled the voids. New York is now expected to cut RG Chris Snee and C David Baas, while C/LG Kevin Boothe's contract is up and G/RT David Diehl retired. C Eric Herman (2013, seventh round), T/G Brandon Mosley (2012, fourth round), OT Matt McCants (2012, sixth round), G/T James Brewer (2011, fourth round), and G Mitch Petrus (2010, fifth round) have all been failures.

CB: There's RCB Prince Amukamara and then not a whole lot else. LCB Corey Webster passed his prime several years back, and 2012 third-round pick Jayron Hosley is shaping up as a bust. Terrell Thomas and Trumaine McBride were both thrust into major 2013 roles. They're now free agents. This is another area in which Reese's recent drafts have come up painfully short.

LB: Re-signing MLB Jon Beason should be among Reese's first orders of business, but the Giants' second-level woes extend beyond that. WLB Spencer Paysinger and SLB Jacquian Williams are both poor run defenders without in-house talent to push for their starting jobs. New York could use movement at all three linebacker positions, but may wind up settling for one.

RB: The Giants have a laundry list of needs; tight end and defensive line also could've been included here. Running back is slightly more pertinent. Andre Brown's contract has expired, and the G-Men can't count on 2012 first-round enigma David Wilson after January 16 neck surgery. Reese probably won't invest a high pick on a running back, but needs to address the position somehow. Re-signing Brown would be an affordable solution, even if he's not a long-term answer.

22. Atlanta Falcons

DL: The Falcons have assembled a studly young cornerback group, and desperately need to get them up-front help. RE Osi Umenyiora is washed up at age 32. DTs Jonathan Babineaux, Corey Peters, and Peria Jerry are all free agents. The left end position is wide open. GM Thomas Dimitroff would jump at the chance to draft Jadeveon Clowney, but he's not making it to No. 6.

OL: This is the likeliest position at which Dimitroff will use his first-round pick, ideally on a tackle like Jake Matthews (Texas A&M) or Greg Robinson (Auburn). The Falcons have a gaping hole at right tackle, and Lamar Holmes was a predictable bust on Matt Ryan's blind side last season. Center is also a major concern after 2012 second-round pick Peter Konz flopped at the position.

TE: Tony Gonzalez's retirement leaves block-first sophomore Levine Toilolo and practice squad-type players on Atlanta's tight end depth chart. The Falcons figure to lean on three-receiver sets in 2014 following Harry Douglas' career-best year, but could still use a tight end who poses at least some semblance of a passing-game threat. Heavy-footed Toilolo had 11 receptions as a rookie.

RB: Safety and linebacker are also arguable need areas for Atlanta, but running back comes in higher on the list. Free agent addition Steven Jackson flopped in 2013, missing four games with a hamstring tear and posting a career-worst 3.46 YPC in his dozen appearances. Jacquizz Rodgers is just a change-of-pace back. Atlanta is a pass-first team and may not invest heavily on this position -- especially after getting burned by S-Jax -- but it's clearly both a short- and long-term weakness.

23. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

DE: As 2011 second-round pick Da'Quan Bowers continues to shape up as a draft bust, the Bucs' only bankable 2014 defensive end is Adrian Clayborn, who is an average NFL starter. Following the Lovie Smith and Leslie Frazier hires, expect ex-Bears and Vikings to be regularly connected to Tampa Bay as free agent possibilities. Jared Allen and Julius Peppers are both expected to reach the open market. Smith and Frazier's defensive scheme emphasizes pressure from the front four. This position will be addressed, likely as Lovie's utmost offseason priority.

OL: The Bucs' high-priced offensive line isn't paying dividends, as RG Davin Joseph, C Jeremy Zuttah, and LG Jamon Meredith all received negative 2013 grades from Pro Football Focus. $47.5 million LG Carl Nicks has missed 23-of-32 possible games as a Buc and is nursing a potentially career-threatening foot injury. Tampa Bay needs a talent injection on the interior offensive line.

CB: Darrelle Revis is locked in as Lovie's new Charles Tillman, but No. 2 cornerback Johnthan Banks and slot defender Leonard Johnson are both coming off miserable seasons. It just so happens that Tillman's contract is up in Chicago. Reuniting with Smith makes too much sense.

TE: It remains to be seen how Tampa Bay's new front office and coaching staff feel about ex-wide receiver Tim Wright at tight end, as Rutgers alum Wright lost perhaps his biggest in-house supporter when college coach Greg Schiano was canned. Fellow holdover Luke Stocker is entering his fourth NFL season and has yet to contribute positively. For a 4-12 team, the Bucs don't have a ton of glaring needs. But the futures of tight end and quarterback Mike Glennon remain to be seen, depending on how Smith and new GM Jason Licht evaluate their 2013 film.

24. St. Louis Rams

OL: The Rams don't have a single offensive line spot settled for 2014. LT Jake Long tore his right ACL and MCL in Week 16. Left guard was a revolving door throughout 2013. 33-year-old C Scott Wells ($5.5 million) and 32-year-old RG Harvey Dahl ($4 million) are potential cap casualties. RT Rodger Saffold's contract is up. St. Louis holds the Nos. 2 and 13 overall picks in May's draft, and it wouldn't be insane for GM Les Snead to invest both picks on offensive line upgrades.

DB: Safety has been a weakness in the Gateway City for years. The Rams appear to be high on rising sophomore SS T.J. McDonald, but FS Rodney McLeod is stretched and then some as a starter. The Rams could also use a nickel package replacement for slot man Cortland Finnegan, who will be released. Outside CBs Janoris Jenkins and Trumaine Johnson are passable starters.

WR: Yet another position that has lacked any hint of stability for far too long in St. Louis, wideout remains a need as Chris Givens and Tavon Austin return from disappointing years, while 2012 second-round pick Brian Quick's development has been painfully slow. Earlier this month, Snead told reporters he didn't see receiver as a glaring need, but the Rams amazingly haven't produced a 700-yard wideout since Torry Holt in 2008. That is a truly pathetic receiving drought.

QB: The Rams seem intent on retaining Sam Bradford despite a $14-plus million non-guaranteed salary, but their tune will change if Bradford's mediocrity continues for a fifth straight season. On his current deal, St. Louis would save $10.42 million in cap room by cutting or trading Bradford this offseason, or $11.5 million next offseason. At very least, the Rams need a better backup than Kellen Clemens. They're likely to use a middle-round pick on a quarterback in this May's draft.

25. New York Jets

WR: Santonio Holmes is a surefire cap casualty, leaving Stephen Hill, David Nelson, Jeremy Kerley, and Greg Salas as the Jets' top four receivers. Hill has been the NFL's least efficient receiver over the past two seasons, Nelson would be a No. 3 or 4 on a team with good wideouts, and Salas has bounced around the league. Kerley is a solid slot guy. The Jets don't have a No. 1- or 2-caliber receiver. Giving Geno Smith help figures to be New York's top offseason priority.

TE: Jeff Cumberland and Kellen Winslow are free agents. Zach Sudfeld, Konrad Reuland, Chris Pantale, and Colin Anderson round out the Jets' current tight ends; not good enough for a team so shorthanded at receiver. In case you were wondering, ex-rugby player and Mike Tannenbaum favorite Hayden Smith was among the Jets' first cuts last fall, and never resurfaced in the NFL.

OL: If it seems like almost every team needs offensive line help this offseason, it's because they do. More than one smart NFL talent evaluator opined during 2013 that line play was at an all-time worst around the league. For the Jets, RT Austin Howard and RG Willie Colon are free agents, while LG Brian Winters got noticeably pushed around as a third-round rookie. C Nick Mangold and LT D'Brickashaw Ferguson are the Jets' only bankable O-Line assets at this point in time.

QB: Outside linebacker, corner, safety, and kicker could also be considered needs for Rex Ryan's club, but quarterback takes precedence as the most important position in pro sports. Smith was mostly brutal as a rookie starter, while Mark Sanchez will be released and Matt Simms isn't a solution. Following the season, second-year GM John Idzik declined to publicly commit to Smith as his 2014 starter, which is telling after Geno was a premium selection in Idzik's first ever draft.

26. Minnesota Vikings

QB: Vikings GM Rick Spielman formally threw in the towel on Christian Ponder last year, signing Josh Freeman in-season and playing Matt Cassel down the stretch. None of the three are assured of returning to the 2014 roster. Minnesota has the No. 8 overall pick in May's draft and would likely jump at the chance to draft Johnny Manziel, Teddy Bridgewater, Blake Bortles, or Derek Carr.

DL: 32-year-old free agent RE Jared Allen is almost certainly done in Minnesota, and nose tackle is up for grabs with Fred Evans' contract also up. Owed $3.95 million, Letroy Guion is a likely salary casualty. Re-signing DE Everson Griffen and DT Kevin Williams would go a long way toward stabilizing this position group. Sharrif Floyd will be counted on for a big second-year leap.

CB: Rookie left corner Xavier Rhodes flashed shutdown ability when healthy in his first season, but sophomore slot man Josh Robinson took a huge step back, and enigmatic RCB Chris Cook is a free agent. As new Vikings DBs coach Jerry Gray has history with Alterraun Verner, pre-free agency rumors will inevitably connect the free agent to Minnesota. Verner would be an outstanding addition as a natural right corner capable of manning the slot in nickel packages.

G: The Vikings are in good shape at 4-of-5 offensive line positions, but badly need an upgrade on LG Charlie Johnson following his second consecutive abysmal season. Ideally, Minnesota would find a legitimate starting left guard and demote Johnson into a reserve/swing lineman role.

27. Tennessee Titans

QB: New coach Ken Whisenhunt has had several opportunities to anoint Jake Locker his 2014 quarterback. He's balked every time. Ryan Fitzpatrick isn't a starting-caliber passer and could even be a cap casualty with a $2.75 million salary. Picking 11th overall, Tennessee isn't ideally positioned to land one of the draft's premier signal callers. The top free agent quarterbacks are Michael Vick, Josh McCown, Josh Freeman, and Shaun Hill. Locker may be the guy by default.

RB: Although it's happening two years too late, the Titans will cut Chris Johnson this offseason. Career plodder Shonn Greene is left as Tennessee's only tailback signed for 2014. The Titans are one of the likeliest teams to use an early-round draft pick at running back. Whisenhunt is going to need a strong rushing attack to mask his new team's seemingly inevitable passing-game woes.

DT: The Titans will likely install a 3-4 defense under new DC Ray Horton. Derrick Morgan and Akeem Ayers are viable outside linebacker options, with Jurrell Casey, Sammie Lee Hill, and Ropati Pitoitua on the ends. (Pitoitua is a free agent, but will be affordable.) Horton prefers space eaters on the nose, a la Phil Taylor in Cleveland and Dan Williams in Arizona. Currently, the Titans don't have any of those. Defensive line is arguably free agency's deepest position.

OT: Blind-side protector Michael Roos is entering his contract year, while RT David Stewart's play no longer matches up with his $6.4 million salary. Backup right tackle Byron Stingily struggled in his 2013 spot starts and can't be counted on, while fellow top reserve Mike Otto is a free agent. It's similarly easy to imagine GM Ruston Webster investing an early-round pick at offensive tackle.

28. Buffalo Bills

OL: Erik Pears ($2.9 million) is a possible salary casualty after an awful year at right tackle, while Buffalo is still trying to replace 2013 free agent departure Andy Levitre at left guard. The Bills are set at the other three offensive line spots with C Eric Wood, LT Cordy Glenn, and RG Kraig Urbik.

TE: Scott Chandler is a free agent, and not worth premium tight end money. 2013 seventh-round athlete Chris Gragg did flash in limited rookie-year opportunities. Still, securing a safety valve for their young quarterback should be prioritized by the Bills. A quality blocking tight end could be a difference maker for this offense, which features the run. Buffalo led the NFL in 2013 rushing attempts.

QB: E.J. Manuel's performance when healthy disappointed as a rookie, and along the way he incurred three separate knee injuries, two requiring surgery. As far as backup quarterbacks go, Thad Lewis and Jeff Tuel are among the league's most pedestrian. GM Doug Whaley shouldn't stop supplementing the position. 2013 first-round pick Manuel has an awfully long way to go.

DB: The Bills have fewer glaring needs that it may seem. They're pretty well loaded on defense, but could use talented depth at both cornerback and safety. Even if free agent Jairus Byrd walks, Buffalo has Aaron Williams, Da'Norris Searcy, and rising sophomore Duke Williams waiting in the wings. A trusty veteran DB would still be a welcomed addition for new coordinator Jim Schwartz.

29. Cleveland Browns

QB: Brian Hoyer impressed in limited 2013 duty with a quick trigger and aggressiveness, but tore his right ACL in October and isn't a long-term solution. 32-year-old backup Jason Campbell is overpriced at $3.25 million in salary and bonuses. Brandon Weeden almost certainly won't be in the new coaching staff's plans. Cleveland has the No. 4 overall pick in May's draft.

RB: Edwin Baker, Chris Ogbonnaya, Fozzy Whittaker, and Dion Lewis currently make up the top four spots on Cleveland's running back depth chart. None of them should be guaranteed 2014 roster spots. As the Browns will likely start a rookie quarterback under new coach Mike Pettine, it would make sense to complement him with a sustaining run game. Cleveland GM Mike Lombardi was a big fan of Ben Tate and Anthony Dixon before the 2010 draft. Both are now free agents.

WR: Beyond TE Jordan Cameron, returning NFL receiving yardage leader Josh Gordon has no help. Greg Little has been a complete flop as a starter, and slot man Davone Bess' problems extend far past his league-high 14 drops. Situational burner Travis Benjamin tore his right ACL in October. Cleveland could use a No. 2 receiver who poses a complementary threat. Lombardi must also factor in Gordon being one off-field hiccup away from a half- or even full-season suspension.

DB: Joe Haden is entrenched as a top 10-15 NFL corner, but Cleveland has little behind him. Buster Skrine is a nickel back at best, and 2013 third-round pick Leon McFadden got torched down the stretch. Opponents knew to attack Skrine and McFadden and had success doing it. Shoring up No. 2 corner could make Cleveland a dynamite defense in Pettine's first year. As for further needs, C Alex Mack must be re-signed and the Browns could use help at inside linebacker.

30. Houston Texans

QB: The Texans will release Matt Schaub in short order, while Case Keenum has a long way to go just to be a serviceable backup in the league. The organization has soured on third-stringer T.J. Yates. All signs point to Houston using the No. 1 pick on a quarterback. Owner Bob McNair will likely support Johnny Manziel, but rookie coach Bill O'Brien may fall in love with Blake Bortles.

LB: New DC Romeo Crennel's two-gap 3-4 scheme relies on its linebackers to get pressure as opposed to down linemen. We may see J.J. Watt do a lot more block occupying as opposed to gap shooting under Crennel. Either way, the Texans badly need an explosive edge presence. 2012 first-round pick Whitney Mercilus has been a disappointment, while Brooks Reed would be best suited inside next to injury-riddled Brian Cushing. This is a team in need of a franchise outside rusher.

DL: Undersized NT Earl Mitchell and RE Antonio Smith's contracts are up. Outgoing DC Wade Phillips was comfortable using one-gap nose tackles, but Crennel prefers space eaters in the middle. The Texans may believe they can replace Smith internally with Jared Crick. But the defensive line needs more talent and depth. Houston was regularly exposed in 2013 run defense.

OL: Longtime left guard Wade Smith is entering free agency, and his play has fallen off a cliff. RT Derek Newton was fantastically bad for the second straight year in 2013. The Texans have core pieces in LT Duane Brown, C Chris Myers, and RG Brandon Brooks, but need two new starters.

31. Jacksonville Jaguars

QB: It's no coincidence that each of the bottom nine teams on this list have quarterback listed as a need. The Jaguars are at the forefront, having given Blaine Gabbert too much time in the first place and finally throwing in the towel in 2013. Jacksonville picks third overall in May's draft, guaranteeing GM Dave Caldwell a shot at one of the draft's top four signal callers. The Jaguars could also use a veteran backup. Unfortunately, the free agent QB cupboard is all but bare.

DE: The alternative to quarterback at No. 3 would be Jadeveon Clowney. Jacksonville's defense played competitively for the most part in rookie coach Gus Bradley's first season, particularly down the stretch. They have a number of intriguing young pieces. What they do not have is a difference-making edge rusher. One could conceivably turn Bradley's defense from a bottom-half unit into a sneaky top-15 group. Buffalo DE/OLB Khalil Mack is another sleeper at No. 3 overall.

OL: Football Outsiders graded Jacksonville 31st in 2013 run blocking and 24th in pass protection. Luke Joeckel's return should stabilize left tackle, but C Brad Meester is retiring, LG Will Rackley is an annual disappointment, RG Uche Nwaneri's scheduled pay ($4.8 million) no longer matches his play, and right tackle is wide open. This position group needs a serious facelift.

RB: Linebacker and tight end could also be argued as Jaguars needs, but the fact that they will in all likelihood start a rookie quarterback in 2014 necessitates a run-game upgrade. Rushing improvement begins up front and I don't expect Jacksonville to break the bank on a tailback, but based on 2013 performance Jordan Todman and Denard Robinson won't cut it. Maurice Jones-Drew is a free agent, and Justin Forsett is expected to be cut.

32. Oakland Raiders

QB: There really isn't a position group at which Oakland should feel comfortable entering 2014. Coach Dennis Allen's staff deserves credit for dragging the least talented roster in football to four wins this past season. Matt McGloin could be a serviceable long-term backup, but Allen and GM Reggie McKenzie have shown no confidence in Terrelle Pryor, and 2013 fourth-round pick Tyler Wilson is now a Tennessee Titan. The Raiders have the fifth overall pick in May's draft.

OL: Both Raiders lines are in disarray as the roster currently stands. Oakland can hang its hat on C Stefen Wisniewski and perhaps RT Menelik Watson as 2014 starters, but no one else. LT Jared Veldheer's contract is up. RG Mike Brisiel has been a free agent bust since McKenzie gave him a five-year, $20 million deal in March of 2012. Ineffective 32-year-old LG Khalif Barnes also is a free agent, and alleged 2012 UDFA gem Lucas Nix flopped spectacularly in an expanded 2013 role.

DL: Oakland's full starting defensive line is entering free agency: RE Lamarr Houston, LE Jason Hunter, NT Pat Sims, and DT Vance Walker. This position was arguably the Raiders' biggest 2013 strength, creating a gaping void on Allen and DC Jason Tarver's defense. The good news is McKenzie finally has enough cap space to retain at least two of them, ideally Houston and Sims. But he still needs a true outside pass rusher, and a gap-shooting interior pocket pusher.

RB: Re-signing Rashad Jennings would give Oakland some semblance of backfield credibility, but he turns 29 in May and isn't a long-term solution. OC Greg Olson doesn't seem to believe FB Marcel Reece is a realistic tailback option, while Allen publicly expressed disappointment in 2013 fifth-rounder Latavius Murray before he hit I.R. last August. Darren McFadden is done in Oakland.



Evan Silva is a senior football editor for Rotoworld.com. He can be found on Twitter .
Email :Evan Silva



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