Most impactful strikes and 2021 offseason targets for all 32 NFL groups

With 2021 NFL free company winding down, we’re trying again on what went down and looking out ahead to what’s forward.

Whereas there have been plenty of important free-agent signings such because the Tennessee Titans choosing up a pair of edge rushers, the Baltimore Ravens upgrading their offensive line and the Tremendous Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers re-signing almost all their free brokers, the interval started with a slew of serious trades that despatched quarterback Carson Wentz to the Indianapolis Colts, quarterback Matthew Stafford to the Los Angeles Rams and the No. 3 total decide to the San Francisco 49ers.

Many groups proceed to look to shore up weaknesses on their respective rosters, and loads of massive names stay unsigned. The Kansas Metropolis Chiefs lower their bookend offensive tackles — Eric Fisher and Mitchell Schwartz — who each stay unemployed. Edge rushers Melvin Ingram III and Justin Houston are also in search of a staff, whereas Jadeveon Clowney is now seemingly on an annual one-year contract.

NFL Nation breaks down the signings, the offseason targets and the most important query remaining for every staff:

Soar to:
NE | NO | NYG | NYJ | PHI | PIT | SF

AFC East

Marquee signings: Matt Milano, LB; Darryl Williams, OT; Jon Feliciano, G; Emmanuel Sanders, WR; Mitchell Trubisky, QB

Offseason targets: The Payments entered the offseason because the AFC’s runners-up and have been intent on operating it again in 2021 with largely the identical roster. Basic supervisor Brandon Beane cleared cap house by a sequence of restructures and releases and was finally in a position to re-sign their marquee free brokers whereas shoring up a number of areas that wanted reinforcements.

Greatest query to be answered: The place does Buffalo see its remaining weak spot? The Payments’ go rush nonetheless wants enchancment as they appear to take down Kansas Metropolis. Tight finish, cornerback and operating again additionally proceed to be areas of want. If the Payments see their roster as championship-ready, they could eschew drafting for worth and as a substitute take instant-impact gamers later this month. — Marcel Louis-Jacques



Cameron Wolfe breaks down how impactful Will Fuller can be for Tua Tagovailoa and the Dolphins’ offense.

Marquee signings: Will Fuller, WR; Jacoby Brissett, QB; Matt Skura, C; Bernardrick McKinney, LB (commerce)

Offseason targets: The Dolphins wished to enhance their offense, which was mediocre in 2020, by constructing across the quarterback. Their massive splash was signing Fuller, whereas the remainder of free company targeted on depth. All eyes are on the draft, as Miami already has made two massive trades and appears possible so as to add each a large receiver and a operating again with two of its 5 picks within the first two rounds.

Greatest query to be answered: Move rush was a necessity coming into free company, and the Dolphins obtained worse in that space after buying and selling away Shaq Lawson for McKinney. Emmanuel Ogbah and Andrew Van Ginkel are their prime edge rushers, however they should add one and possibly two important contributors within the draft to unravel this challenge. — Cameron Wolfe

Marquee signings: Jonnu Smith, TE; Hunter Henry, TE; Matthew Judon, OLB; Davon Godchaux, NT; Nelson Agholor, WR; Kendrick Bourne, WR; David Andrews, C

Offseason targets: Get aggressive with ample cap house, in a yr the NFL wage cap went down that meant much less competitors from different groups, and fill some main holes because of some inconsistent drafting. Particularly, deal with tight finish, vast receiver and the entrance seven on protection.

Greatest query to be answered: Who’s the quarterback of the long run? For all of the strikes the Patriots made, and no staff had extra, they nonetheless have a stage of uncertainty at QB. That may very well be answered within the draft, though choosing at No. 15 — and with the 49ers shaking issues up with their massive commerce as much as No. 3 with a quarterback in thoughts — there isn’t any assure the Patriots will discover their reply, except they make their very own daring transfer up the board. For now, Cam Newton is the projected starter for 2021, and Jimmy Garoppolo may very well be in play in 2022 (if not sooner). — Mike Reiss

Marquee signings: Carl Lawson, DE; Corey Davis, WR; Sheldon Rankins, DT; Tevin Coleman, RB; Jarrad Davis, LB

Offseason targets: The Jets have accomplished strong work in free company, however they have not improved the offensive line. That is scary, contemplating the road ranked among the many league’s worst. Former Chargers starter Dan Feeney will compete at guard with Alex Lewis and Greg Van Roten, however that is hardly an improve. GM Joe Douglas nonetheless has work to do. There’s not a lot left in free company, so search for him to draft a lineman within the first three rounds, ideally a guard. Mekhi Becton is a possible star at left sort out, however he wants assist. Enchancment from heart Connor McGovern can be a pleasant begin.

Greatest query to be answered: Everyone is aware of this one: Who’s taking part in quarterback? It in all probability will not be incumbent Sam Darnold, whose days in New York seem numbered. From all indications, he can be traded and changed by BYU’s Zach Wilson, the Jets’ possible draft decide at No. 2 total. As soon as they get that resolved, the Jets should discover a QB2, both in free company or through commerce. — Wealthy Cimini



Jamison Hensley breaks down the signing of offensive lineman Kevin Zeitler for the Ravens.

AFC North

Marquee signings: Kevin Zeitler, G; Sammy Watkins, WR

Offseason targets: The Ravens wished to improve the supporting forged round quarterback Lamar Jackson, they usually did so with blended outcomes. Baltimore sought to enhance the blocking in entrance of Jackson, and the Ravens landed their prime goal on the primary day of free company. Zeitler, one of many prime guards in free company, helps fill the yearlong void left by Marshal Yanda, who retired after the 2019 season. The pursuit of a veteran vast receiver was not as clean. Baltimore finally went with Watkins after JuJu Smith-Schuster and T.Y. Hilton turned down its affords. Watkins is a step up from Willie Snead, however Watkins has to show he can keep wholesome.

Greatest query to be answered: Who’s speeding the passer? In free company, the Ravens misplaced two of the NFL’s finest younger pass-rushers in Matthew Judon (to the Patriots) and Yannick Ngakoue (Raiders). Baltimore was in a position to maintain continuity at exterior linebacker by re-signing Tyus Bowser and Pernell McPhee. However Bowser is understood for his go protection, and McPhee is among the many staff’s finest run defenders. To actually deal with the necessity for edge rushers, the Ravens should signal one of many prime remaining free brokers (Melvin Ingram III, Justin Houston or Jadeveon Clowney) and draft an outdoor linebacker within the first two rounds. — Jamison Hensley

Marquee signings: Trey Hendrickson, DE; Mike Hilton, CB; Riley Reiff, OT; Chidobe Awuzie, CB; Larry Ogunjobi, DT

Offseason targets: The Bengals wanted a powerful push in free company to maneuver towards the top of the present rebuilding interval. Cincinnati made a few massive additions, particularly with Hendrickson, Hilton and Awuzie. However Cincinnati was changing outgoing starters, and it stays to be seen if the signees can be upgrades. Including Ogunjobi and Reiff pushed their free-agency interval from a impartial or barely damaging one to considerably constructive. Reiff provides the Bengals some flexibility on the offensive line as Cincinnati approaches the draft and the important No. 5 total decide. If Cincinnati drafts Penei Sewell, Reiff provides them an possibility to begin Sewell at guard in his rookie yr or put him at proper sort out.

Greatest query to be answered: The center of the offensive line, particularly the 2 guard spots, stays an enormous query mark. Except for re-signing Quinton Spain, a midyear acquisition in 2020, the Bengals did not signal any offensive guards. This might sign a renewed sense of confidence within the present roster with assistant Frank Pollack. Nevertheless, Cincinnati cannot be something in need of assured in its go safety with second-year quarterback Joe Burrow coming off a devastating knee damage. Cincinnati remains to be in search of long-term choices at guard. — Ben Child

Marquee signings: John Johnson III, S; Takkarist McKinley, DE; Troy Hill, CB; Anthony Walker, LB; Malik Jackson, DT

Offseason targets: Cleveland’s precedence this offseason was to bolster the protection round All-Professional edge rusher Myles Garrett. The Browns did that, signing arguably the highest security available on the market in Johnson, earlier than touchdown McKinley to begin reverse Garrett. Johnson’s instincts, versatility and management ought to solidify the secondary. The Browns see McKinley’s energy as an acceptable complement to Garrett’s velocity. Garrett’s velocity off the sting forces the opposing quarterback to step up into the pocket; McKinley’s energy collapses the pocket from the opposite facet. For that idea to work, although, McKinley might want to regain his focus and well being.

Greatest query to be answered: Provided that McKinley barely performed final yr, defensive position remains to be a query mark. The Browns additionally did not improve their velocity or athleticism at linebacker in any approach, whereas permitting 2020 beginning nook Terrance Mitchell to stroll in free company. The Browns should deal with these wants within the draft, starting with the No. 26 total decide, which is certain to be a defensive choice. With the Johnson signing, the Browns’ protection is best, however in all probability not sufficient to think about Cleveland a viable Tremendous Bowl contender. — Jake Trotter

Marquee signings: JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR; Cam Sutton, CB; Tyson Alualu, NT

Offseason targets: The Steelers’ largest objective is to return to the Pittsburgh approach of anchoring the offense with a bruising, bodily run sport — one thing that is been missing the previous two seasons. James Conner is gone, and the staff did not signal a operating again in free company, leaving that to the NFL draft. Selecting at No. 24 within the first spherical, there can be loads of choices to draft a top-tier operating again akin to Najee Harris or Javonte Williams. In the event that they wait, although, there are second- or third-round choices akin to Michael Carter who might complement the backs on the roster. Along with drafting a operating again, the staff should additionally discover extra safety for quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in a middle or left sort out — an alternative choice for its first-round choice.

Greatest query to be answered: When will the Steelers signal T.J. Watt to an enormous extension? Workforce proprietor Artwork Rooney II mentioned in a current name with followers that conserving Watt was an enormous precedence, signaling an extension may very well be coming sooner relatively than later. The outstanding pass-rusher is ready to hit free company subsequent yr, however the Steelers don’t desire that to occur. On a staff that also has so many questions, one of the crucial rapid ones is construction and time a Watt extension to maintain the cornerstone of its protection round for a very long time. — Brooke Pryor

AFC South

Marquee signings: Bradley Roby, CB; Randall Cobb, WR; Phillip Lindsay, RB; Tyrod Taylor, QB; Desmond King, CB

Offseason targets: One of many Texans’ offseason targets is to discover a option to construct a aggressive staff regardless of not having a draft decide within the first two rounds and getting into the offseason greater than $20 million over the 2021 wage cap. Basic supervisor Nick Caserio started that course of by including greater than 30 gamers in free company and through commerce after the beginning of the league yr on March 17. Houston nonetheless has an extended option to go earlier than enhancing on the 4 video games it gained in 2020, however on the very least, Caserio has created quite a lot of competitors for the offseason program and coaching camp by signing a lot of gamers to one- or two-year offers at a low worth.

Greatest query to be answered: Who would be the Texans’ Week 1 beginning quarterback? Deshaun Watson requested to be traded in January, placing strain on Caserio in his first offseason as Houston’s normal supervisor. That call took an enormous flip in March, when 19 girls filed civil lawsuits in opposition to Watson alleging inappropriate conduct and sexual assault by the Texans quarterback. The authorized course of is not anticipated to be wrapped up rapidly, and Watson is dealing with a attainable suspension from the NFL because the league has opened an investigation into the scenario. The Texans agreed to a take care of Taylor on March 16, hours earlier than the primary lawsuit was filed in opposition to Watson. Houston has additionally since traded for quarterback Ryan Finley to offer the staff an alternative choice on the place. — Sarah Barshop

Marquee signings: T.Y. Hilton, WR; Marlon Mack, RB; Xavier Rhodes, CB; Sam Tevi, OL; Isaac Rochell, DL

Offseason targets: One of the simplest ways to explain the Colts’ free company thus far is: Boring. And that is boring regardless of the necessity to discover a beginning quarterback, left sort out and add extra items alongside the defensive position and receiver. However that should not be stunning as a result of that is how normal supervisor Chris Ballard has operated yearly since he was employed in 2017. The Colts skipped the free-agent market when addressing the quarterback place, as a substitute selecting to amass Carson Wentz through a commerce. The 2 different important strikes have been re-signing the 31-year-old Hilton and Mack, who’s coming off a torn Achilles in 2020.

Greatest query to be answered: Who will begin at left sort out and the place will the go rush come from? Anthony Castonzo’s retirement in January has left a void alongside the offensive line, which has been top-of-the-line within the NFL the previous couple of seasons. Proprietor Jim Irsay just lately hinted they’re leaning towards the draft find their future left sort out. Another choice — and one the Colts would relatively attempt to keep away from — is shifting All-Professional Quenton Nelson from guard to left sort out. Defensive lineman Denico Autry signed with AFC South counterpart Tennessee and veteran Justin Houston stays unsigned. That is a mixed 15.5 sacks which have left or is at the moment a free agent the Colts should make up for. — Mike Wells

Marquee signings: Shaquill Griffin, CB; Marvin Jones Jr., WR; Roy Robertson-Harris, DT

Offseason targets: Coach City Meyer mentioned the Jaguars wished to rebuild their defensive position and tight ends. The Jaguars obtained an excellent begin on the primary objective by signing Robertson-Harris and defensive finish Jihad Ward and buying and selling for nostril sort out Malcom Brown. Shedding defensive finish Tyson Alualu, who agreed to phrases however backed out and returned to Pittsburgh, stings however the Jaguars additionally re-signed defensive ends Dawuane Smoot and Adam Gotsis, two of their finest defensive linemen final season. As for tight finish, the Jaguars introduced in blocker Chris Manhertz and re-signed James O’Shaughnessy, who had 80 catches in 4 years with the Jaguars, however Meyer mentioned there’s extra work to be accomplished there.

Greatest query to be answered: The Jaguars will take a quarterback with the primary decide — Meyer signaled it will be Trevor Lawrence — so what can they do to get him assist? Signing Jones was an enormous step however Meyer needs so as to add velocity at receiver and operating again. Additionally they signed vast receiver Phillip Dorsett however gave him no assured cash so anticipate the staff to focus on quick receivers and backs within the draft. As well as, the Jaguars want a decent finish that may be an element within the go sport. Jaguars tight ends coach Tyler Bowen coached at Penn State so Pat Freiermuth is a reputation to observe there. — Michael DiRocco

Marquee signings: Bud Dupree, OLB; Janoris Jenkins, CB; Denico Autry, DL; Josh Reynolds, WR

Offseason targets: The highest precedence for the Titans was to bolster their go rush after 19 sacks final season. The secondary gave up 36 passing touchdowns which have been the second-most within the NFL so the Titans wished to make some adjustments to the again finish by purging themselves of high-priced contracts. As for the offense, Tennessee knew they’d possible lose vast receiver Corey Davis and tight finish Jonnu Smith to free company. Shedding two of the highest go catchers from final season created a void at vast receiver and tight finish that needed to be stuffed with restricted cap house.

Greatest query to be answered: There nonetheless are query marks at cornerback. Each beginning cornerbacks from final season are gone after the staff launched Malcolm Butler and Adoree’ Jackson. Jenkins will take over one of many beginning spots. The opposite spot will come from a bunch headlined by second-year nook Kristian Fulton and veteran Kevin Johnson. There may be additionally a void at nickel nook after the Titans did not re-sign Desmond King. The Titans additionally lack a confirmed starter at tight finish to exchange Smith so they are going with extra of a committee strategy. Discovering a slot receiver may also be on the docket. — Turron Davenport

AFC West

Marquee signings: Justin Simmons, security; Shelby Harris, DE; Kyle Fuller, CB; Ronald Darby, CB; Kareem Jackson, S; Mike Boone, RB

Offseason targets: The Broncos’ secondary wanted reinforcements having misplaced 5 cornerbacks (4 to damage, one to a suspension) in a three-week span final season. Bryce Callahan additionally missed 22 video games during the last two seasons mixed. The Broncos spent a lot of their free company cash on the place securing Simmons long-term and including Darby and Fuller. Additionally they exercised the choice in linebacker Von Miller’s contract and introduced Jackson again. Basic supervisor George Paton mentioned he wished a protection that “can rush and canopy.” If the Broncos keep wholesome their protection can do this.

Greatest query to be answered: The Broncos maintain saying they like quarterback Drew Lock — in current weeks Paton went so far as to say “we’re lucky we’ve got a quarterback” when requested concerning the potential of including one other one. However the draft will present if that’s written in Sharpie or not. If they don’t try to maneuver up and keep at No. 9 within the first spherical, the quarterbacks with the flexibility to begin in 2021 can be off the board and any quarterback they choose can be coming in to compete with Lock down the street. Even when they signal a veteran quarterback late in free company or after the draft, the Broncos imagine Lock is the most suitable choice in 2021. — Jeff Legwold



Marcus Spears and Mina Kimes react to former Patriots offensive linemen Joe Thuney signing with the Chiefs.

Marquee signings: Joe Thuney, G; Kyle Lengthy, G; Jarran Reed, DT

Offseason targets: The Chiefs wanted to rebuild an offensive line that crumbled by the top of final season and was an enormous drawback of their Tremendous Bowl LV loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. They attacked the issue within the early days of free company by signing Thuney and Lengthy, however extra work stays. They nonetheless have openings within the beginning lineup at left sort out and heart. The Chiefs hadn’t put many assets when it comes to free-agent cash or premium draft picks into their line, so the Thuney and Lengthy signings have been overdue. Reed ought to give the Chiefs a powerful inside pass-rush mixture when paired with Chris Jones.

Greatest query to be answered: Who’s their No. 2 vast receiver? The Chiefs, with Sammy Watkins a free agent, tried to signal plenty of vast receivers, together with JuJu Smith-Schuster. That leaves the impression they are not thrilled with their choices behind their No. 1 vast out, Tyreek Hill. Mecole Hardman is subsequent in line, however his inconsistency hasn’t impressed confidence he can deal with the function. The Chiefs declined to offer him extra taking part in time final yr when Watkins was out of the lineup with accidents. If the Chiefs cannot discover a receiver they like in what stays of free company, search for them to draft one in an early spherical. — Adam Teicher

Marquee signings: Yannick Ngakoue, DE; John Brown, WR; Willie Snead IV, WR; Quinton Jefferson, DT; Solomon Thomas, DT; Kenyan Drake, RB; Nick Martin, C; Matt Dickerson, DT; Darius Philon, DT

Offseason targets: The Raiders wanted to deal with their woeful protection and add a chunk or two to an explosive offense. Who knew Las Vegas would additionally should rebuild its high-priced offensive line? Buying and selling away proper sort out Trent Brown, proper guard Gabe Jackson and heart Rodney Hudson (the Raiders additionally lower left guard Richie Incognito earlier than re-signing him) modified the main target for a bit. At the very least they re-signed versatile O-lineman Denzelle Good. In reshuffling the O-line the Raiders saved some cash, however at what price? Including numbers within the defensive entrance seven was additionally a met objective, and Ngakoue being an elite edge rusher ought to solely assist the continued developments of Clelin Ferrell and Maxx Crosby.

Greatest query to be answered: What concerning the veteran presence wanted within the secondary generally, a free security specifically? The Raiders desperately want mentioned vet to assist kids Trayvon Mullen and Damon Arnette at cornerback in addition to security Johnathan Abram not solely perceive the nuances of defensive coordinator Gus Bradley’s scheme, however to indicate them be professionals. So, what is the holdup on Richard Sherman? I child. Kinda. However this a lot is not any laughing matter — are the Raiders snug with Jeff Heath and Dallin Leavitt as their two free safeties? Drafting a security at No. 17 total can be intriguing, however it will even be counterproductive for an already-young unit that badly wants, once more, veteran management on the again finish. — Paul Gutierrez

Marquee signings: Corey Linsley, C; Matt Feiler, LG; Oday Aboushi, G

Offseason targets: Offseason targets must be to get wholesome — at each place. Working again Austin Ekeler is therapeutic from a ugly thigh damage and security Derwin James should be near 100% after tearing his meniscus and lacking the season. The younger security confirmed unimaginable promise in his rookie yr. Additionally, Justin Herbert now has to be taught yet one more playbook (with quite a lot of his concepts meshed with OC Joe Lombardi).

Greatest query to be answered: The most important query to be answered can be particular groups. They introduced again kicker Michael Badgley who struggled till the ultimate 4 video games, when he was in a position to make area targets to win video games. However he could have competitors in Tristan Vizcaino, just lately from the 49ers. They’ve a brand new coordinator in Derius Swinton, who joins Lombardi and defensive coordinator Renaldo Hill on Brandon Staley’s workers. They’re younger and energetic, now we’ll see how they mesh. — Shelley Smith

NFC East

Marquee signings: Keanu Neal, S; Damontae Kazee, S; Tarell Basham, LB; Brent City, DE; Ty Nsekhe, OT; Jake McQuaide, LS

Offseason targets: The highest objective was to get quarterback Dak Prescott signed to a long-term deal, which they did earlier than free company started ending a three-year offseason odyssey. The remainder of the objective was to search out items on a protection that wants a ton of assist. They largely did that, however with out paying big cash. Basham has the biggest salary-cap hit of any of their eight signings at $2.5 million. Neal could make the most important influence due to the necessity within the secondary in a hybrid security/linebacker function. If Kazee is wholesome coming off a torn Achilles, the Cowboys have one other participant aware of what defensive coordinator Dan Quinn needs and the confirmed potential to take the ball away (seven interceptions in 2018).

Greatest query to be answered: The Cowboys may need added amount in free company with eight signings, however have they added high quality? They’ve chosen to not make a splashy signing, however will these tip the steadiness within the division or convention? None of them will take the Cowboys out of play for a particular place within the draft, nevertheless, cornerback and linebacker (simply out of sheer numbers) are on the prime of the record, whereas they are going to at all times want pass-rush assist and greater inside defensive linemen. With 10 draft picks, the Cowboys can both goal particular gamers by shifting up after the primary spherical or they will sit pat and construct their roster out with all of their alternatives. — Todd Archer

Marquee signings: Leonard Williams, DL; Kenny Golladay, WR; Adoree’ Jackson, CB

Offseason targets: The Giants wanted so as to add a No. 1 vast receiver and/or edge rusher to help quarterback Daniel Jones. They got here up brief on edge rusher after Leonard Floyd selected to stick with the Rams. They pivoted to vast receiver, the place they signed Golladay to an enormous deal. Getting a cornerback the caliber of Jackson was a bonus. The Giants stuffed holes at WR1, CB2, backup quarterback and added depth at tight finish. Not a foul free-agent haul.

Greatest query to be answered: Edge rusher stays an enormous want for the Giants. The offensive line can be an enormous query mark. Can the Giants shield Jones sufficient to reap the advantages of signing Golladay, tight and Kyle Rudolph and the remainder of the returning forged? At the very least their free-agency haul provides them flexibility within the draft to doubtlessly deal with the priority. If not with the No. 11 decide, then possibly within the first three rounds. — Jordan Raanan

Marquee signing: Anthony Harris, S

Offseason targets: The Eagles wanted to fill out the quarterback room after buying and selling Carson Wentz, and took a step in that route by signing Joe Flacco to a one-year deal. He supplies a veteran presence for projected starter Jalen Hurts. Defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon is predicted to place a heavy emphasis on the secondary, which wanted upgrades at a number of positions. By signing Harris (one yr, $5 million), Gannon will get a confirmed playmaker who can line up at a number of spots. Harris performed below Gannon in Minnesota. That ought to make for a clean transition into his system.

Greatest query to be answered: Who will play cornerback reverse Darius Slay? The excellent news for the Eagles is there are variety of notable free-agent corners who stay unsigned, together with A.J. Bouye, Steven Nelson and Casey Hayward. They need to be capable to discover a high quality participant at a reduction. They might additionally use the No. 12 total decide on a cornerback like South Carolina’s Jaycee Horn. Philadelphia wants so as to add a 3rd quarterback. Florida’s Kyle Trask is smart as a mid-round decide. — Tim McManus

Marquee signings: Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB; William Jackson III, CB; Curtis Samuel, WR; Adam Humphries, WR

Offseason targets: Add a veteran beginning quarterback and extra velocity at receiver. They stuffed the beginning quarterback function with Fitzpatrick, giving them an skilled passer who maybe is taking part in the very best ball of his profession. They usually stuffed the will for velocity by signing the versatile Samuel. Additionally they stored guard Brandon Scherff, however wanted the franchise tag to take action. They’d hoped to re-sign nook Ronald Darby, however after failing to take action landed arguably the very best accessible nook in Jackson.

Greatest query to be answered: Who’s the quarterback of the long run? That particular person isn’t but on the roster and there isn’t any doubt Washington will think about drafting one later this month; it does not really feel it should be addressed in spherical one. Whereas Taylor Heinicke was a pleasant story for his one begin, that is hardly sufficient to launch him from being out of the league for 2 years right into a distinguished function for the long run. They’ve a wait-and-see strategy with him and Kyle Allen. However they’d like so as to add somebody they view as having far more long-range potential who also can be taught from Fitzpatrick. — John Keim

NFC North

Marquee signings: Andy Dalton, QB; Desmond Trufant, CB; Damien Williams, RB

Offseason targets: Quarterback, quarterback and extra quarterback. The Bears have been below immense strain to repair a quarterback scenario that has been largely untenable for 70-plus years. After weeks of rumors about buying and selling for Seattle’s Russell Wilson, the Bears settled on veteran Andy Dalton, a lot to the dismay of an already agitated fan base. The Bears doubled-down even additional by anointing Dalton their 2021 starter, however that does not preclude Chicago from drafting a quarterback. With the twentieth total decide, the Bears should get artistic in the event that they need to land any of the top-five quarterback prospects. However they should do one thing. Going into subsequent season with simply Dalton and fellow veteran Nick Foles appears unlikely and unwise. Keep tuned.

Greatest query to be answered: All the things. What are the Bears precisely? With out a viable resolution at quarterback, how can Chicago anticipate to overhaul Inexperienced Bay within the NFC North? The protection is comparatively robust, however dropping cornerback Kyle Fuller (cap casualty) was an unlucky flip of occasions. All of it, although, circles again to the offense. The Bears want dramatic enchancment on that facet of the ball. Preserving prime receiver Allen Robinson (through the franchise tag) helps, and so does signing veteran operating again Damien Williams, however the Bears have query marks on the different receiver spots and on the offensive line (proper sort out) that should be answered. — Jeff Dickerson

Marquee signings: Romeo Okwara, DE; Tyrell Williams, WR; Breshad Perriman, WR; Jamaal Williams, RB; Charles Harris, EDGE; Randy Bullock, Okay; Alex Anzalone, LB

Offseason targets: The Lions are nonetheless available in the market for linebackers, defensive backs, receivers and draft picks. Detroit did accomplish a number of issues in free company, particularly making Okwara a foundational piece for the following few years whereas having its two largest acquisitions (defensive lineman Michael Brockers and quarterback Jared Goff) come by commerce. Subsequent up is the place new normal supervisor Brad Holmes theoretically shines finest as a former school scouting director — the draft. He has decide No. 7 and quite a lot of wants to deal with because the staff tries to construct from three straight dropping seasons from 2018-2020.

Greatest query to be answered: To select one query is difficult, as a result of there are a large number of points on Detroit’s roster. That go rush — the obvious challenge for years below ex-general supervisor Bob Quinn — has been answered is a change. Within the short-term, what the linebacking corps seems to be like and who could be the receiver to construct round sooner or later are the massive questions for Detroit. The long-term one to be answered — is quarterback Jared Goff the reply for the Lions — will not be identified for not less than a yr. — Michael Rothstein



Marcus Spears advises the Packers to think about the long run concerning Aaron Rodgers.

Marquee signings: Aaron Jones, RB; Marcedes Lewis, TE; Kevin King, CB

Offseason targets: Work out recover from the hump in an NFC title sport after arising one sport in need of the Tremendous Bowl for the second straight yr. GM Brian Gutekunst put it bluntly earlier this offseason: “The most important factor is we’ve got to get to the purpose the place we play effectively in that championship sport. We have had a pair video games the place we have not performed as much as our commonplace.” Gutekunst knew, given the tight wage cap, he would not be capable to make many main additions in free company (particularly if he determined to re-sign Jones), so in a way his assertion was a problem to the gamers and the coaches to get it accomplished when it issues most.

Greatest query to be answered: What’s quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ long-term future with the staff? When the Packers did not rework Rodgers’ contract earlier than they paid his $6.8 million roster bonus on March 19, it once more begged the query: Are they planning to maneuver on after this season? If not, then why not push a few of Rodgers’ roster bonus into future cap years by turning it right into a signing bonus? Maybe they’re engaged on an even bigger restructure or extension however till that occurs, will probably be troublesome to say for certain whether or not Rodgers has a future in Inexperienced Bay past the 2021 season. — Rob Demovsky

Marquee signings: Dalvin Tomlinson, DT; Patrick Peterson, CB; Mackensie Alexander, CB; Xavier Woods, S

Offseason targets: A yr after rating twenty ninth in factors and twenty seventh in yards allowed, the Vikings went all in on protection to shore up their largest points. Minnesota’s secondary went from an inexperienced unit with out a lot depth to a defensive backfield that has flexibility and choices at a number of positions with the additions of Peterson, Alexander (who was beforehand Minnesota’s beginning nickel nook) and Woods, a promising younger security with upside. Coach Mike Zimmer addressed his staff’s largest weak spot so as to get them again to the playoffs in 2021, believing that the offense (minus a pair items right here and there) will be capable to stand pat if the protection can pull its weight.

Greatest query to be answered: How will the Vikings deal with the offense by the rest of free company and the draft? Minnesota struggled with its inside go safety final season and will not be capable to repair these points by counting on backup caliber gamers to fill necessary roles. The Vikings have to draft a beginning caliber left sort out (or guard) except they imagine Rashod Hill and Mason Cole are able to beginning. Minnesota additionally must discover a No. 3 vast receiver within the draft. As a result of the staff went so heavy on protection in free company, offense must be the precedence in April. — Courtney Cronin

NFC South

Marquee signings: Mike Davis, RB; Erik Harris, S; Brandon Copeland, LB; Barkevious Mingo, LB; Fabian Moreau, CB; Lee Smith, TE; Younghoe Koo, Okay

Offseason targets: The Falcons could not actually do a lot in free company with a troublesome cap scenario and commitments to Matt Ryan, Julio Jones and Grady Jarrett, amongst others, one-year offers have been possible going to be the reply. And to that impact, normal supervisor Terry Fontenot completed that objective. That is going to be the beginning of a course of in Atlanta and it made sense for the Falcons to not make many long-term commitments as they attempt to determine issues out.

Greatest query to be answered: Will the Falcons take a quarterback at No. 4? The commerce maneuvering to see San Francisco stand up to No. 3 appears to imply the Falcons could have the selection of the fourth quarterback off the board (would that be Justin Fields or Trey Lance?) or doubtlessly the very best non-quarterback accessible. How Fontenot handles that query might say lots concerning the short- and-long-term futures of the franchise and must be what the Falcons entrance workplace and training workers weighs over the following month till draft day. — Michael Rothstein

Marquee signings: Haason Reddick, OLB-DE; Morgan Fox, DT-DE; Pat Elflein, OG-C; Cam Erving, OT; LB Denzel Perryman, MLB; Dan Arnold, TE

Offseason targets: To improve at quarterback after a disappointing 2020 from Teddy Bridgewater, rebuild the offensive line, discover a pass-catching menace at tight finish, enhance the go rush and discover a shutdown nook. The offensive line has been rebuilt, though free-agent signings Erving and Elflein may very well be thought of tasks at left sort out and left guard. Franchising proper sort out Taylor Moton and re-signing proper guard John Miller have been strong strikes. Including Haason Reddick, 12.5 sacks in 2020 at Arizona, was big to the go rush. He frees defensive coordinator Phil Snow to be multi-dimensional along with his schemes. Arnold is barely a slight improve at tight finish.

Greatest query to be answered: Improve at quarterback and a beginning nook. Carolina tried to commerce for quarterback Matthew Stafford however fell brief. The choices within the draft have been lowered by San Francisco buying and selling with Miami into the No. 3 spot, possible for a quarterback. With Trevor Lawrence going No. 1 to Jacksonville meaning the highest three or 4 alternatives may very well be quarterback, so staying at No. 8 makes getting one of many prime gamers sketchy. Signing journeyman cornerback Rashaan Melvin seems like a band-aid, and never an excellent one. — David Newton

Marquee signings: Marcus Williams, S (franchise tag); Jameis Winston, QB; P.J. Williams, DB; Nick Vannett, TE; James Hurst, OL; Alex Armah, FB. Tanoh Kpassagnon, DE

Offseason targets: Sadly the Saints’ No. 1 objective was to get below the wage cap. They shed greater than $110 million in cap house whereas dropping quarterback Drew Brees to retirement and releasing or buying and selling a handful of second- and third-tier gamers. Nevertheless, it is notable the Saints determined to maintain all of their elite expertise as a substitute of going into rebuilding mode. They did not commerce any of their most costly gamers, they usually positioned the franchise tag on Williams. Additionally they re-signed Winston to compete with Taysom Hill for a very powerful job on the roster.

Greatest query to be answered: Quarterback is the apparent selection, because the Saints have to determine a starter for the primary time in 15 years. They’re in respectable form with Winston and Hill as two intriguing candidates, they usually in all probability do not have sufficient collateral to amass an apparent improve by a commerce or the draft. However they’re going to not less than think about each possibility because the place is important. The second largest query is whether or not they can replenish the depth they misplaced with guys like defensive finish Trey Hendrickson, cornerback Janoris Jenkins, vast receiver Emmanuel Sanders and defensive tackles Malcom Brown and Sheldon Rankins. They’ve kicked the tires on some free agent cornerbacks, however they’ve treasured little cap house left.— Mike Triplett

Marquee signings: Lavonte David, ILB; Shaq Barrett OLB; Rob Gronkowski, TE; Ndamukong Suh DL; Leonard Fournette RB; Ryan Succop, Okay; Rakeem Nunez-Roches, DL; Kevin Minter, ILB; Josh Wells, OT; Aaron Stinnie, OL

Offseason targets: Bucs normal supervisor Jason Licht and coach Bruce Arians vowed to do the whole lot they might to “maintain the band collectively” and did: The Bucs return all 22 Tremendous Bowl starters from their Tremendous Bowl LV victory on offense and protection — the primary time that is been accomplished within the wage cap period (since 1994), per Elias. They have been in a position to accomplish this by extending quarterback Tom Brady and left sort out Donovan Smith, which collectively, freed up $29.65 million, along with more cash created by utilizing voidable years on all their contracts — one thing the Bucs have not used beforehand in director of soccer administration Mike Greenberg’s time dealing with contracts. Up to now, they’ve misplaced simply two gamers to different groups — security Andrew Adams and offensive lineman Joe Haeg.

Greatest query to be answered: Will Antonio Brown return? He is the one key free agent who hasn’t re-signed. The Bucs are already paying two No. 1 vast receivers — a rarity within the NFL. Mike Evans will depend $16.64 million in opposition to the wage cap in 2021 and Chris Godwin — who will play below the franchise tag — will depend $15.98 million. The vast receiver market has been slow-moving. It is also comprehensible different groups could be apprehensive to re-sign Brown. He is on felony probation for assaulting a supply driver a yr in the past, and he faces a civil swimsuit for alleged sexual assault, with a trial that was moved from 2020 to 2021. The Bucs raved about Brown as an individual and a teammate, however the cash must be proper for either side. — Jenna Laine

NFC West



Ryan Clark breaks down why he believes A.J. Inexperienced can be an excellent addition to the Cardinals’ offense.

Marquee signings: J.J. Watt, DE; A.J. Inexperienced, WR; Malcolm Butler, CB; Matt Prater, Okay

Offseason targets: The Cardinals wanted to strengthen their vast receiving corps and discover a No. 1 cornerback, they usually did each by signing Inexperienced and Butler. However the objective of the offseason was to get adequate to make the playoffs, which they have been one win away from final yr. Including Inexperienced, Butler, Watt and Prater must be sufficient to place the Cardinals over that proverbial hump and get them to the postseason. The Cardinals’ offense was lackluster if not mired in mud the second half of the season so Inexperienced must be a significant enhance. Including Watt on the protection wasn’t a necessity like the opposite positions of want however he provides the Cardinals as robust of a one-two punch off the sting as there’s within the NFL. And Prater may be the veteran kicker who may be the distinction between wins and losses, which suggests the distinction between the playoffs and staying house.

Greatest query to be answered: Why did not Arizona concentrate on youthful free brokers? The reply in all probability lies in the truth that the older free brokers they signed have been keen to take one-year offers for the cap-lowered 2021 season. However one other query is whether or not the “identify” free brokers they signed — Watt, Inexperienced, Butler and Prater — are just too outdated. They’re all of their 30s. And although Arizona did not signal any of them for greater than two years, the potential for his or her our bodies to both begin or proceed to interrupt down this season must be a significant concern. — Josh Weinfuss

Marquee signings: Matthew Stafford, QB (commerce); Leonard Floyd, OLB; DeSean Jackson, WR

Offseason targets: The Rams entered the offseason needing to reinvigorate an offense that declined in manufacturing the previous two seasons and needing to keep up a presence at edge rusher on the defending top-ranked protection. Each targets have been completed. The Rams traded for Stafford, who’s getting into his thirteenth NFL season and brings a powerful arm and savvy to the quarterback place, and signed Jackson to be a deep-threat receiver that the offense lacked in 2020. After producing a career-high 10.5 sacks final season, Floyd returns on a four-year deal and solidifies not less than one facet of the protection’s go rush.

Greatest query to be answered: What’s the resolution at heart? Austin Blythe stays an unrestricted free agent after taking part in heart in 2020 and for seven video games in 2019, leaving Brian Allen as the one heart on the roster with expertise. Allen began 9 video games in 2019 earlier than he suffered a season-ending knee damage and questions stay about his well being shifting ahead. “The important thing that what we do not essentially know with Brian is, how will he play, how will he play post-injury?” normal supervisor Les Snead mentioned earlier this month. “That was fairly severe damage that has gone by and he is accomplished a heck of a job rehabbing it.” Coleman Shelton can also play heart however has no sport expertise on the place. — Lindsey Thiry

Marquee signings: Trent Williams, LT; Kyle Juszczyk, FB; Jason Verrett, CB; Okay’Waun Williams, CB; Alex Mack, C

Offseason targets: The 49ers’ main emphasis going into free company was on conserving their very own key free brokers and determining how they have been going to reshape their quarterback room. They did each in resounding style. Preserving Trent Williams was the domino that allowed all the others to fall because the Niners benefited from the cap squeezing the center class of free brokers and retain a lot of their very own. It additionally left the Niners make the franchise-altering commerce as much as No. 3 to land their quarterback of the long run.

Greatest query to be answered: Which quarterback are the Niners concentrating on and what’s going to it imply for Jimmy Garoppolo? If BYU’s Zach Wilson in some way slips to No. 3, the Niners must be throughout it but when not, there is a troublesome option to be made amongst Trey Lance, Mac Jones and Justin Fields. All three might in all probability use a yr on the bench and because the Niners imagine they will contend in 2021, they might stick to Garoppolo for one more yr. In fact, the Niners’ loyalty to Garoppolo solely runs as deep as the very best supply they could get for him, which is why there are nonetheless no absolutes. These are choices that may reverberate by the group not simply this season however for years to return. — Nick Wagoner

Marquee signings: Gerald Everett, TE; Gabe Jackson, G (commerce); Ahkello Witherspoon, CB; Kerry Hyder, DE; Chris Carson, RB; Carlos Dunlap, DE; Benson Mayowa, DE; Poona Ford, DT; Ethan Pocic, C; Jordan Simmons, G; Cedric Ogbuehi, T; Nick Bellore, FB

Offseason targets: Quarterback Russell Wilson’s complaints about his pass-protection put a highlight on the Seahawks heading into free company. Their commerce for Jackson and their signing of Everett have been strikes they could have made even with out public strain from Wilson, however these additions helped ease among the tensions between the group and its pissed off quarterback. Jackson was an expensive addition, however normal supervisor John Schneider obtained Dunlap and Carson again on cheap offers by ready out their markets. He additionally introduced again Mayowa and added Hyder at team-friendly charges, giving the Seahawks three pass-rushers for round what Dunlap would have price them had they stored him on his outdated contract. The Seahawks’ go rush now seems to be loaded, not less than on the sting. They will miss Jarran Reed within the center after releasing him for wanted cap room.

Greatest query to be answered: How will the Wilson scenario play out? Wilson and the Seahawks appear to be in a greater place than they have been earlier than the beginning of free company. He appreciated a few of their additions on offense and had a constructive dialog with coach Pete Carroll. He labored to persuade Carson to re-sign then publicly celebrated his return and several other of Seattle’s different offers, giving the looks of a participant who’s absolutely engaged. However that was not a scenario that was going to be fully fastened by one or two offseason strikes. And whereas Jackson will assist the Seahawks’ pass-protection, he is the piece they’ve added to their offensive line. Anticipate the Seahawks to proceed in search of somebody to compete at heart with Pocic, whose $3 million deal suggests he is not a lock to begin. Additionally they want a 3rd receiver and a strong-side linebacker with Okay.J. Wright unsigned.– Brady Henderson

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